Attending the American Telemedicine Association national conference in late April

It is in Las Vegas and has the first pre-conference events on the 25th and runs through the evening of the 28th. The flight back is the 29th. It is the largest gathering on telemedicine in the world and this is my first one. I would also love to hit HIMSS, but could only swing one event.

Texas Medicaid is working on various telemedicine items and this should be a useful event for me. I work at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (our Medicaid agency) and am involved with medical technology issues.

Southwest Airlines won my business with the best combo of departure arrival times, travel times, and price. Some competitors were a little cheaper, but had much longer travel times. I am frugal, but can only spend so much time hanging around an airport before the small amount saved isn’t worth it.

I am trying out the Extended Stay America hotel near the conference site. I have used this hotel chain in Houston and was impressed with reasonable rates and access to a basic suite. It ain’t fancy, but I just want a clean place to crash at the end of each day and the option to stash some eats in the fridge and avoid eating out. If I pay a huge amount for a room, I can’t sleep because I am up all night thinking about the bill! The Extended Stay place is saving me better than $100 a night off the conference hotel.

The irony is that I really don’t gamble (I find it boring and faintly depressing), don’t drink out much (just too cheap), and actually treat business travel as business – not an excuse to party. Las Vegas will be waste on me! Heck, as a newbie vegetarian, I don’t even have much to do at the steakhouses and fancier dining spots. I mean, how many ways can you order a salad?

Hopefully there is a safe place to walk after each day’s events while smoking a decent cigar. I am assuming I will find some other Texans at the event and maybe we can catch a meal together. Texas has two very experienced telemedicine providers within its university systems. One of them, UTMB, is the largest provider in the world.

Wireless Internet is available in the room for a nominal charge, so I will probably get it. I have an Acer Aspire One netbook that will be my travel companion. Small, cheap, and surprisingly robust, it is a welcome relief from lugging a full-size notebook. Yeah, the 8.9 inch screen is small, but it is sharp and clear. I might eventually move up one size to a ten-inch screen netbook and get a better battery. But, for now, the little Acer is a winner. I can email the family, check up on the office, and read the Drudge Report.

I will carry it to events and write my notes on it. I will just need to try to get a spot near a wall to get some power. The stock Aspire One comes with a three-cell battery. I need to upgrade to the six-cell, as the somewhat short battery life is an admitted drawback. It isn’t an issue when I use it at work, as most conference rooms have access to power within cord length.

I don’t watch TV, even when traveling. I find it either boring or insulting; sometimes both at the same time!. The netbook will be my window into the happenings of the outside world.

The hardest thing may be five days without PC video games! The horror! The netbook isn’t up to handling Fallout 3. Maybe I will put Peggle on it before I leave. I have a spare copy of Deus Ex, so I could do some classic gaming (on a tiny screen).



2 Responses to “Attending the American Telemedicine Association national conference in late April”

  1. Eddie McKibbin Says:

    Can you tell me which hotel you are staying at and more about reimbursment for Medicade in Texas.

    • jamesacooley Says:

      I am going to be staying at the Extended Stay America Las Vegas – Valley View at 4720 S. Valley View Road. They offer discounts for multiple nights if you sign up for their email promotions. I am getting $20 knocked off the total bill via their promotion. The website is

      The rules for reimbursement of telemedicine were just upgraded. In general, Medicaid allows reimbursement for physicians only who provide the services, but will now pay a facility fee ($25) to the distant site where the patient is located. Our statutes specify that only physicians may be reimbursed, though we had a pilot program authorized that allowed reimbursement of non-physician behavioral health providers.

      We have some pilot projects in the works targeting pediatrics and sub-specialties. These may use alternatives to standard Medicaid reimbursement, as they are testing differing approaches to making these services available. I will send you an email with my work email and I can send you links to the statutes and rules that cover telemedicine reimbursement, if you wish.

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