I have watched our society wrestle with how to deal with COVID 19. Telemedicine has emerged to reduce cross-infections and protect caregivers. Telemedicine became mainstream a few years ago when the largest health care provider launched its own brand of telehealth in Utah. This is not new to many of us.
However, many are not aware that two modern-day pioneers blazed the trail so that telemedicine would be available during the pandemic. Marta Petersen, M.D., and Deb Lamarche transformed a small seed funding from the University of Utah and one clinic site in 1996 into a system that supports patients from over 50 hospitals, clinics and health districts. They didn’t have it easy. Meeting with the Legislature, writing grants and educating the skeptical interrupted family life and friendships. But as with all pioneers they saw what was needed and figured out how to make it happen.
I’m sure the value of telemedicine during a pandemic was not on their minds when it all began. But, having had my first telemedicine appointment last week, I had to pause and acknowledge those two amazing modern pioneers.