AMP News Arkansas Hospitals

Putting Data to Work

Bo Ryall, President and CEO of the Arkansas Hospital Association

The following article is from Arkansas Hospitals magazine, a custom publication of Vowell, Inc., which also produces Arkansas Money & Politics.

In this issue of Arkansas Hospitals, we have a two-fold look at just what data can do – whether statistical data for analysis purposes or data shared through telemedicine for the good of our patients.

We’ve always known, or at least suspected, that there’s a lot of good to be realized from an expansion of telemedicine in our state. It’s certainly good for our patients, connecting isolated or rural patients with specialists from across the region. We know it’s good for efficiency of care, and we understand that many medical staff members really like the convenience of connecting with faraway patients through the use of telecommunications.

We also have seen a recent advancement in the acceptance of telemedicine by payers, by patients, and by physicians themselves.

But until recently, the question, “Who will pay for telemedicine, and at what rates?” was top of mind. With the recognition of telemedicine practice as a valid medical service by government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, it seems that telemedicine is potentially positioned to show growth over the next few years.

Because of the Arkansas General Assembly’s recent passage of a new law regarding telemedicine practice in our state, we expect to see slow and steady growth at a pace that is both responsible and cautious. We’re glad our legislators are unfolding telemedicine regulations over a 5-year period, designed to protect patients as providers move forward in a measured fashion.

At the heart of telemedicine is the transfer of data, and the need for increasing amounts of data and its analysis for use in policy-making, measuring the success of new programming, and projecting what hospitals will be facing in the coming years.

To help with our member hospitals’ need for cutting edge data and its analysis, we’re pleased to announce that Suzanne Bierman has joined the AHA staff as our Vice President of Data and Policy. Suzanne comes to us from Arkansas Medicaid, where she served as its Assistant Director.

Suzanne has a strong background in public health and data analysis. She has been a member of teams crafting major policy changes at both the state and federal levels, and was a member of the policy-writing team that came up with Arkansas’s original Private Option waiver and its transition to Arkansas Works. Suzanne holds a master’s degree in Public Health from UAMS, as well as a law degree.

We’d like to remind you that our summer edition always includes your Statistical Section, easy to pull out and keep for reference through the year. Our thanks to Executive Vice President Paul Cunningham for compiling this useful data, and to Suzanne for contributing to this year’s statistical segment.

We hope you will find useful the many opportunities to explore the use of data and the face of telemedicine in Arkansas presented in this issue. We are uniquely “on the map” in this area, and look forward to sharing our state highlights with you here.

Bo Ryall
President and CEO
Arkansas Hospital Association

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