"Telemedicine allows continuity of care"
- Amy Jelliffe, MD

 

 


"Clients get timely care (through telelmedicine)."
-Beth Caspian, MD

    Clinical need for telemedicine
Much of Northern Arizona is made up of sporadic and isolated population centers, separated from each other by harsh desert landscapes, mountains, the Grand Canyon, and Native American reservations. The Northern Arizona region covers 66,000 square miles and encompasses six counties: Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo, Gila, and Apache. The entire population of this area is approximately 798,999: 12% of the state's population (according to 2015 Census estimates).

Northern Arizona is a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area, where access to mental health care can involve lengthy travel and long wait times. With a service population that is 20% Native American and 14% Hispanic, issues of cultural differences and linguistics, along with issues of stigma associated with mental health care, create barriers for those needing services.

In the remote, rural towns of Northern Arizona, behavioral health care provider agencies face challenges in recruiting and retaining psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. The time involved in traveling to see patients and the isolation from continuing medical education and peers often translate to a constant turnover in all areas of rural health care. This problem is acknowledged in “The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health: Final Report, July 2003.”

HCIC’s telemedicine network, HCICnet, was set up to address the shortage of psychiatrists in rural Northern Arizona. It allows behavioral health practitioners to provide clinical services to patients at remote locations through two-way, interactive videoconferencing, sparing both practitioners and patients the time and expense of long-distance travel and giving patients ready access to psychiatric services in their own communities.

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