UA Telemedicine Program helping breast cancer survivors

Published: Mar. 29, 2014 at 4:04 AM MST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 5:16 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Joggers will convene at the UA Mall for the 16th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday.

The organization has been helping breast cancer patients and survivors for decades but its contribution also has a deep footprint in the future of medicine technology that is based in Tucson.

The Susan G. Komen Southern Arizona chapter has been central in funding a telemedicine program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, known as Vida!.

Dr. Ana Maria Lopez leads the program, which is one element among a vast amount of medical services that the UA Telemedicine Program offers for physicians, patients and medical centers throughout Arizona.

Lopez said Vida was born out of a goal to give breast cancer survivors a resource for health education via video conferencing and helps bridge the distance between quality healthcare and rural communities in Southern Arizona. Health centers from reservations, Nogales and Douglass have taken part in the program.

The monthly video sessions provide therapy sessions for breast cancer survivors who want to know more about topics like the Affordable Care Act, medicinal plants, and food as medicine -- information that they crave to stay healthy.

Vida is just one among several telemedicine programs at UA. The Arizona Telemedicine Program launched in 1996 under the encouragement of the Arizona state legislature and has since become one of the leading telemedicine programs in the nation.

"A current race is on in the venture capital world to invest in telemedicine programs that will make services far more accessible than they currently are," said the Arizona Telemedicine Program Director Dr. Ronald Weinstein.

Telemedicine has been touted as the future of medicine, where medical care is accessible within a click of a mouse. Video conferencing has also opened doors for communities that have a shortage in doctors. With telemedicine, physicians could provide real-time consultations remotely.

"I think it's going to have a lot to do with changing the landscape of who the providers are, but importantly, giving people very rapid access to services," Weinstein said.

The Arizona Telemedicine Program currently serves 160 sites in 70 communities throughout Arizona, according to Weinstein.

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