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Southwest Telehealth Resource Center Blog

It used to be (back in the old days) that “doing” telemedicine (TM) was so new and foreign to everyone that it was considered research, and thus required—at most institutions—human subjects or Internal Review Board (IRB) approval. Patients had to be consented into a study prior to engaging in any sort of telemedicine encounter.

Thankfully, for the most part, those days are gone. While some institutions may still require IRB consent, that number has decreased significantly. Of course, if you are conducting a scientific experiment using a new telemedicine device or some new procedure, that study will have to go through the usual IRB approvals and involved patients will need to be consented.

Gerald Hornbeck is a 73-year-old Veteran who lives with his wife in Gilbert, Arizona, approximately 40 miles from the Phoenix Veterans Administration Health Care System (PVAHCS).

In 2012, after being diagnosed with end-stage heart failure, he was implanted with a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) at the University of Utah Medical Center. Since then, the LVAD has taken over the task of pumping blood to the rest of his body.

The Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) have been in existence for just over 10 years, with the SWTRC for nearly all of that time. In honor of this decade of service to the telehealth community the TRCs released a 10-year report summarizing our group and individual accomplishments and services (available upon request). Periodically it helps to sit back and reflect a bit on what we’ve accomplished as we chart our course for the next few years.

In the beginning…

Using the strictest definition, telemedicine has been around since the ’60s. Initially it was medical professionals with a phone and a video screen consulting with one another. Since the users in question were both regulated and overseen by state boards of medicine, this use often didn’t require many additional rules or regulations.

The patient-provider relationship is a sacred bond that has existed since the dawn of healthcare. The trust and responsibility placed on the provider by the patient to heal and act with their best interest in mind remains at the core of this relationship even in the modern age of healthcare.

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