Increasing Telemedicine’s Visibility

At this year’s ATA 2012 Conference ATA President Stewart Ferguson challenged the telehealth community as a whole to raise the visibility of telemedicine through a unified public awareness campaign. For the last six years, The Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center (gpTRAC) has been working to further this goal by hosting a telehealth awareness booth at the Minnesota State Fair.

The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest and best-attended expositions in the United States, attracting nearly 1.8 million visitors every summer. During the fair, gpTRAC gives fairgoers a hands-on telemedicine experience by connecting them with University of Minnesota doctors for teledermatology screenings via videoconferencing. Last year, over 240 attendees received free screenings and thousands more were able to watch the sessions in action.

“Many of these fairgoers hadn’t made it a priority to get screened until they came upon our booth. I think this demonstrates that telehealth services can help increase access to specialty care, like dermatological screenings, to ultimately help reduce overall healthcare costs through earlier diagnosis, management and treatment of disease,” said Stuart Speedie, Ph.D., Principal Investigator of gpTRAC. “Clearly, we accomplished something very positive at the State Fair.”

To date, gpTRAC has showcased teledermatology, pulmonology, and stroke screenings, and this summer plans to add cardiology for their seventh year.

“Last year’s event wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of dermatologists at the University of Minnesota who volunteered their time to conduct free screenings during the fair. With their help raising awareness of telehealth, we hope that access to telehealth services will continue to grow across the state of Minnesota,” added Dr. Speedie.

For more information on gpTRAC at the Minnesota State Fair, visit our “News and Events” Page.