UltraClinics, a telemedicine application service provider company based in Tucson, Arizona, and a spin-off company of the University of Arizona, has developed a process that drastically reduces the time it takes for breast care. During a single breast clinic visit, a woman can have a breast biopsy performed, receive a written laboratory report, and meet with a specialist by video-conferencing for breast cancer treatment planning, all in a single day. Previously, this multi-step process took anywhere from a week to over a month in many health care systems.
With the UltraClinics patent-pending process, the on-site biopsy and tissue processing are completed in a few hours. The biopsy glass slides are electronically scanned into digital image files using a DMetrix virtual slide scanner. A telepathologist at a service center, which can be located at any location with secure Internet access, examines the virtual slides at a computer workstation and immediately generates a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is cancer, the woman consults with a breast cancer specialist by video conferencing for treatment planning. Same day second opinions will be available from a panel of expert specialists using telepathology.
“The UltraClinics. process eliminates the agony women currently experience having to wait for a written laboratory report after having a biopsy and, if necessary, waiting to see a surgeon or oncologist,” according to Ronald S. Weinstein, M.D., Chairman of UltraClinics. “UltraClinics facilities can do it in a single day clinical visit,” said Weinstein. The UltraClinics process was implemented at University Physician Hospital in Tucson in 2005. “Patients have been more than pleased with the convenience and accuracy of the UltraClinics process,” according to Gail Barker, Ph.D., President of UltraClinics. “We envision the creation of a national UltraClinics service network. Timeliness of service should become an important measure of quality in health care,” said Barker.
“The UltraClinics process can make same-day breast care available to hundreds of thousands of women,” according to Weinstein, who is also founding Director of the national award-winning Arizona Telemedicine Program and Professor and Head of the Department of Pathology at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, Arizona. Since 2001, the Arizona Telemedicine Program has hosted a highly regarded rapid digital telemammography service that has benefited thousands of women in rural Arizona residing up to 400 miles from the College of Medicine. These patients receive their written digital mammography reports in less than 90 minutes, before they leave their local imaging centre. The Arizona Telemedicine Program has also provided thousands of telepathology second opinion consultations for patients at small hospitals. Clinical studies have shown that the diagnostic accuracy is excellent.
In 1998, the Arizona Telemedicine Program’s senior management team established the first telehealth application service provider (ASP) organization, in the public sector. Currently, 55 independent health care organizations pay annual membership fees and use the Arizona Telemedicine Program ASP’s broad range of customized services. Over 250,000 patients have received telehealth services over the Arizona Telemedicine Program network. The same senior management team has now founded UltraClinics which takes the telehealth ASP business model into the private sector for the first time.
(Source: Wireless Healthcare, January 26, 2006)