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NEWS FROM TRENTON
22nd Legislative District
NJ Should Strongly Consider Licensing Telemedicine MDs
By Assemblyman Richard H. Bagger
Human kind historically, at least has generally not been quick to embrace change in scientific and medical theory and practice. Galileo, after all, was jailed for having the nerve to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun and not visa versa.
But things have changed. The last 50 years have transformed medicine and our expectations about what it can do for us. Where people were suspicious of scientific progress, we now embrace it as a guarantee of better, fuller and healthier lives.
The engine driving this change has been a series of technological breakthroughs. American Heritage noted a few years ago that almost all of the 100 most important medical discoveries happened in the last 50 years. From miracle medicines to miracle medical technologies such as MRIs and CAT scans, our donors can now diagnose and treat us better than ever before. Now a new technology has entered medical practice: the Internet.
It is hard to find a subject about which more has been written or about which bigger and more grandiose claims have been made. Investors pour millions of dollars into Internet companies which have yet to post a profit but which have soaring share prices.
Banks offer on-line services as a means for consumers to make their lives easier and more convenient. No self respecting retailer would be caught without a web site and a home page to sell products even though Internet sales remain a very small part of their business.
But there is one piece of the technology purple which already does live up to the hype. It is known as “telemedicine” and can be used to describe everything from a telephone consultation to diagnosis by video conferencing to use of the Internet for transmission of sophisticated medical data.
The University of Virginia Health Center uses telemedicine to treat inmates in Virginia’s prisons. The federal budget contains money to help treat people in isolated rural areas with telemedicine where there are shortages of doctors. Just last year, doctors at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick joined with doctors at Yale Medical School to reach a team of snowbound doctors on Mount Everest via the Internet.
The implications of this technological development are huge. Already practiced around the world, telemedicine is a $5 billion a year industry, predicted to grow to $20 billion in the next five years. But money alone does not capture the picture. Telemedicine brings expertise and
knowledge from centers of sophisticated medical care to places where the local doctor needs help.
It has the potential to transform the local family doctor’s office into its own mini-Mayo Clinic. In short, it has the chance to revolutionize the way we offer health services.
On the other hand, it also has potential for abuse. How do you know who is at the other end of the telephone or computer? How do you know whether the man or woman is really a doctor or a nurse? As Mark Herr, Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs put it recently, “I’m not a doctor but I play one on the Internet is probably our worst nightmare.”
Traditionally, state licenses to practice medicine or nursing have been our citizens’ best protection from unqualified doctors and other health practitioners. Someone who wants the privilege to practice medicine in New Jersey must demonstrate to the Board of Medical Examiners that he or she has the education and training to treat New Jersey residents. Other states have very similar licensing standards.
But the Internet erases state boundaries and has potential to erase the protection provided by the traditional state medical licensing system. The opportunity for fraud and impostors goes up tremendously when you cannot see the practitioner who is participating in your diagnosis or treatment.
The question is, how do we handle this? How do we reap the benefits of the technological advances offered by telemedicine while reducing the possibilities people may be hurt by them? The Federation of State Medical Boards has been doing a lot of thinking about this and has some suggestions. New Jersey should give serious consideration to them.
One of the best suggestions is creating a limited kind of license, which would allow practitioners to practice telemedicine in New Jersey after they have demonstrated that they hold a license in good standing in another state, have appropriate education and training and can attest as New Jersey doctors already do to good moral character.
Most states’ licensing laws were written 100 years ago, when different states had widely varying levels of requirements. It was easy then for a doctor in State X to not meet the standards to practice medicine in State Y. Crossing the state lines had huge implications then for what was legal and illegal.
Things have come a long way in 100 years. Individual state requirements for licenses have become relatively stan
Public Is Invited to Attend Programs on School Budget
WESTFIELD — The public is invited to attend information sessions on the proposed 1999-2000 school budget for the Westfield Public School District on the following dates:
Monday, March 22, at 8 p.m. at Edison Intermediate School, 800 Rahway Avenue.
Tuesday, March 23, at 8 p.m. in the Administration Building, 302 Elm Street. There will be a public hearing and the board will vote on the budget.
Wednesday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Wilson Elementary School, 301 Linden Avenue.
Thursday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Franklin Elementary School, 700 Prospect Street.
Monday, March 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Roosevelt Intermediate School, 301
Clark Street. Tuesday, March 30, at 7:45 p.m. at Westfield High School, 550 Dorian Road.
Wednesday, April 14, at 7:45 p.m. at Tamaques Elementary School, 641 Willow Grove Road, and at 7:45 p.m. at McKinley Elementary School, 500 First Street.
“We encourage the public to attend these information sessions,” stated Board of Education President Darielle Walsh, “and to also feel free to call board members or the school administration with any questions.”
The school election, at which time the budget will go before the voters, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 20. Polls will be open from 2 to 9 p.m.
Miss Weber Attributes Success To Westfield School System
WESTFIELD — “My decision to one day become part of the Westfield Board of Education came during college, when I realized that many of the skills I used to succeed at Georgetown were skills I learned throughout my 10 years in the Westfield Public School system,” Westfield Board of Education candidate Genevieve Weber stated in her campaign release this week.
While attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Miss Weber said she decided that international business and foreign language would be her focus for the next four years.
“My interest in business and languages was developed through programs such as F.L.A.G. (Foreign Language Awareness Group), language competitions at Rider College (Lawrenceville), Youth in Business Day, sponsored by the Rotary Club, and an organization known as the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA),” Miss Weber explained.
“In this way, Westfield High School had allowed me to shape my future. Few of my classmates at Georgetown knew what would become of them after graduation, while I had taken advantage of the many opportunities available to me in high school, which set the course for my future career,” the candidate continued.
Returning home to Westfield to work for Lucent Technologies, Miss Weber said she realized that, “Running for the Board of Education is a way for me to thank all of the members of Westfield’s educational community for providing me with the foundation to succeed.
“As a Sales Planning Manager for Lucent’s data networking products, I recognize that the definition of literacy has changed for our students with the emergence of global technology,” she stated.
“Global technology standards demand that our students are computer
literate, have a working knowledge of the Internet, and word processing skills,” she noted.
“Students today are in competition with the entire world for placement in major higher education institutions. I want to ensure that Westfield students are prepared for the challenges, specifically the technological challenges, that lie ahead of them.
“As a recent graduate and member of the technological community, I am prepared to assist Westfield students with such challenges,” Miss Weber remarked.
“I am pleased that language education will be introduced at the elementary and middle school level next year. This change will better prepare our students for foreign language and advanced placement exams, and prepare them for a world that is becoming increasingly interdependent.
“Early language instruction will improve conversational ability and encourage international exchange. While at Westfield High School, I participated in an exchange program to Japan, which inspired me to pursue a major in Japanese,” the candidate said.
“I also spent a year studying at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan, while in college,” she revealed. “Today, I work specifically in the Asia Pacific and China regions, which allows me to travel to Japan and practice my Japanese.”
The candidate said she recognized the constraints of the budget and increasing enrollment, yet as a member of the Board of Education, she hopes to “encourage Westfield to maximize its investment in technology and motivate students to become fluent in at least one foreign language.”
“I personally benefited from the Westfield Public School system. I hope that other students will too,” she concluded.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
Mr. Wallace Seeks to Preserve Town’s Education Program
WESTFIELD — William T. Wallace has announced his candidacy for one of three vacancies on the Westfield Board of Education this year.
A Westfield resident for the past 10 years, Mr. Wallace said he feels the town’s education program is “the crown jewel of the community,” which he believes should be protected and nurtured.
“Our children need and deserve a top education program to prepare them for the challenges of our ever changing world,” the candidate remarked.
Mr. Wallace was appointed to serve on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Capital Projects, which worked with the school board in researching district-wide projects. These projects were ultimately included in the $11.7million educational bond passed by voters on December 15.
He said he would like to serve on the Board of Education to see that the projects planned to be funded with
the new bond issue are realized. Mr. Wallace stated that municipal bonds have been his passion for the past 15 years. He is employed as a Vice President for Chapdelaine &
Co., which acts as a broker for brokers for the Wall Street community.
In 1976, he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Brooklyn College, and graduated in 1978 from Long Island University with a Master of Business Administration Degree in International Finance.
Mr. Wallace and his wife, BethAnn, have two daughters, Dylan and Keegan, who attend second and third grade at McKinley Elementary School in Westfield.
The candidate, who was raised with 16 brothers and sisters, said his parents always stressed the value of a good education.
He stated that he “welcomes the challenge and privilege of serving on the Board of Education.”
William T. Wallace