Georgia to expand telemedicine statewide

Aims to 'remove barriers' for patients

In what's been billed as one of the largest telemedicine initiatives to-date, Georgia's public health commissioner announced Thursday her plans to launch telemedicine clinics in every public health center statewide if grant money permits, The Telegraph reports

After a state budget hearing, Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, of the Georgia Department of Public Health, said she hopes in the next few years that telemedicine clinics, pegged at $20,000 each, would be standard across the state and ultimately expand patient access to care. Currently, "We're applying for grant money," she said. 
 
[See also: Top 5 health conditions for telemedicine treatment.]
 
All public health departments were wired for teleconferencing capabilities by the end of 2012, and according to a department newsletter, some 15 sites used the teleconferencing on a daily basis in the beginning of 2012. By the year's end, the number had tripled. 
 
The next step, Fitzgerald said, is adding the full telemedicine package including exam cameras, sensors, stethoscopes and endoscopes. The department reported in December that 13 of these packages will be rolled out to state health districts by end of January.
 
[See also: Telemedicine for reproductive health.]
 
"The goal is to remove barriers so all patients can be seen and get care they need," said Board of Public Health member Kathryn Cheek, MD, in a December department meeting.