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Telehealth has emerged as a vital resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding and improving telehealth opportunities across the Pacific was one of the topics at a conference hosted by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The 2022 U.S. Affiliated Pacific Island Countries & Territories (USAPICT) Telehealth Workshop was presented by the Pacific Basin Telehealth Resource Center (PBTRC) in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences in August. The conference welcomed participants from American Samoa, Chuuk, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Palau.

“Telehealth is a new norm in health care; together we have to navigate these changes, opportunities, share lessons, resources and information, and focus on low hanging fruit and keep the momentum going,” said Christina Higa, co-director of PBTRC.

Representatives from public hospitals and health agencies in the USAPICT were joined by technical specialists and subject matter experts to engage in rooted discussions about the following topics:

  • Successes, needs and opportunities in telehealth
  • Develop goals and objectives for short-, medium- and long-term initiatives
  • Receive hands-on training on technology
  • Learn various models and modalities for service delivery
  • Recap policy and legislation needs
  • Hear examples of innovative telehealth programs during and post-pandemic

Various success stories were shared, including the Guam Memorial Hospital Authority tele-intensive care unit connecting off-island intensivists for around-the-clock care and provider-to-provider consultation through the Swinfen Telemedicine Network for the Kosrae Community Health Center. Participants also received brief hands-on training of various technologies available for telehealth at the Translational Health Science Simulation Center at the UH Mānoa Nancy Atmospera-Walch School of Nursing.

Like other sectors steering towards a post-pandemic norm, the three-day workshop focused on reconnecting, resetting, reengaging and rebuilding a way forward for accessing health care and services through telehealth in the Pacific.

The 2022 USAPICT Telehealth Workshop was a sequel to the 2016 USAPI Telehealth Champion Building and Planning Workshop, which focused on fostering a critical mass of stakeholders and telehealth champions in the USAPI.

For more, visit PBTRC’s website.

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