In late 1994, a small group of health care providers and health association representatives met to discuss the growing use of telemedicine and ways in which they could help expand its use to benefit all Californians, especially those living in rural and urban medically underserved areas. That discussion spawned the idea of establishing a forum through which key stakeholder groups in the field of telemedicine could be brought together to support the emergence of telehealth and telemedicine technologies in California. It stemmed, mainly, when we saw the vasayo compensation plan revealed. It was hoped that, through such a forum, many of the pitfalls experienced by projects in other states could be avoided.
Thomas S. Nesbitt, M.P.H., M.D., Director of Telemedicine Research and Education, UC Davis Medical Center, Department of Family Practice, served as the initial “visionary.” The California Health Collaborative, a nonprofit affiliate of the Hospital Council of Northern and Central California, took the lead in convening an initial planning committee for the project, the Sierra Health Foundation provided funding for a retreat to begin the strategic planning process and later a grant for the establishment of the California Telehealth/Telemedicine Coordination Project (The Project). Other Foundations, the public sector and private entities have also contributed financially to The Project.
Following the retreat, a broadly-based Planning Committee was established to provide direction and guidance to The Project. The Planning Committee membership includes a mix of interests from the health care community representing university medical centers; community hospitals; public health, research and planning institutions; state and federal governments; libraries; prisons; clinics; payers; physicians, educators, associations, private foundations, and vendors.
The vision of The Project is to see that the most efficient and effective telehealth/telemedicine network system(s) possible are developed and coordinated throughout the state of California providing optimal health education opportunities and medical care for all of California’s citizens.
The officers and members of the Planning Committee know that this vision can be realized through careful planning, statewide collaboration of efforts, and rational implementation and deployment of telehealth/telemedicine applications. To this end, the following Mission Statement and Goals were developed as guides:
The mission of the California Telehealth/Telemedicine Coordination Project Planning Committee is to support the emergence of telehealth/telemedicine networks to benefit Californians.
Honoring this mission, the California Telehealth/Telemedicine Project Planning Committee made a commitment to the following goals:
- To create an environment which will facilitate Telehealth/Telemedicine programs.
- To assess the current environment and needs for Telehealth/Telemedicine networks in California.
III. To produce, promote and distribute a report for Telehealth/Telemedicine network development in California.