WINTER PARK - The 2015 Florida Telehealth Summit provided substantial information for state lawmakers and healthcare industry partners to accelerate the practice and parity of telehealth in the Sunshine State.
"The second annual 2015 Florida Telehealth Summit proved to be an energizing and informative event for the 125-plus attendees who came from all corners of Florida and beyond," said Lloyd Sirmons, director of the Southeastern Telehealth Resource Center (SETRC).
The multi-day summit was held in early December at the Alfond Inn in Winter Park.
"Holding this event at the Alfond Inn and at the beginning of the holiday festivities in Winter Park enhanced the overall experience to those fortunate enough to attend," he added.
Michael P. Smith, MA, MPA, program director of the Center for Strategic Public Health Preparedness and principal investigator for the Center for Universal Research to Eradicate Disease (FLCURED.org) at Florida State University, opened the summit on a positive note with the keynote address, "Telehealth: It's Here, It's There, but Not Everywhere." He encouraged participants to become telehealth champions to their elected officials, in their communities and organizations, and to collaborate to advance telehealth across the state in an effective, powerful and united manner, noted Sirmons.
Lunch keynote speaker Curtis Lowery, MD, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and ANGELS at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS), shared how the highly successful UAMS ANGELS Telehealth Program has transformed the delivery of healthcare to many underserved and unreached residents in rural communities across the country. "His story inspired all to continue to work toward the expansion of telehealth in Florida," said Sirmons.
The line-up of expert speakers produced an outstanding agenda that addressed successful telehealth programs within and outside the state, said Sirmons.
Chris Pittman, MD, president of the Florida Medical Association's (FMA) Political Action Committee (PAC), and Tamara Demko, JD, of Florida TaxWatch, explained how both organizations view telehealth as a tool that can positively impact the delivery of healthcare statewide.
Several out-of-state speakers presented "lessons learned" from their successful telehealth programs, and encouraged participants to continue their good work in Florida, expand programs, and encourage positive telehealth policies with regulators and policymakers.
"The interest in moving telehealth forward in the state is strong and those who attended this year's conference left excited and determined to champion the cause in their communities and organizations from the beaches of the south to the steps of the capitol in Tallahassee," said Sirmons.
Among the programs highlighted:
- The NICU at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola is receiving care from a geneticist located in Gainesville;
- Many children have been positively impacted by clinical telehealth via the University of Miami's Pediatric Mobile Clinic;
- Gravely ill patients in south Florida ICUs received care from intensive care specialists located at Baptist Health South in Coral Springs; and
- Telehealth is providing improved management of tuberculosis (TB) patients in central Florida.
"We're delighted that this 'Florida-focused' summit met our goals of bringing Florida telehealth champions and stakeholders from across our state together to network and move telehealth closer to the day when Floridians can experience increased access to healthcare through the adoption and use of telehealth throughout the state," said Sirmons. "We appreciate those who supported and attended this summit. Thanks go to Florida State University, Florida Partnership for Telehealth, Florida Telehealth Workgroup members, speakers, sponsors, and most importantly, those who attended. We look forward to another engaging and successful summit next year."