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Meet Tanya Mack of Women’s Telehealth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanya Mack.

Tanya, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Women’s Telehealth was “born” to fill a gap in high risk OB specialist care (there are only about 20 of these physicians in GA) by bringing this type of sub-specialist physician to rural areas using new telemedicine technology. In GA, most of these specialty physicians are in a few metropolitan areas and patients often cannot or will not travel that far. At the time we started, only the University of Arkansas and UC Davis in California were providing these services. People often hear “telemedicine” and think it is HIPAA-compliant, Skype. However, we can do virtual exams using light scopes and blue tooth technology. For example, we can hear heartbeats and breath sounds across continents and perform and read ultrasounds on unborn babies from thousands of miles away! We connect to patients in OB offices, government clinics and hospitals that do not have these specialists.

By improving access to care for problem pregnancies early, we can often avoid preterm deliveries and problems that would require a newborn’s stay in a Neonatal ICU and every day, we save mom’s and babies lives. We originally thought all of our patients would be in rural areas. However, as we have grown, a large portion of our business is now urban due to the cost savings and convenience of telemedicine. We now are licensed to perform high risk OB, infertility and genetic counseling in the six southeastern states and have completed over 20,000 patient encounters!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Both starting a telemedicine business and bringing these new services into other areas has definitely been a challenge. Some of the barriers have been: Getting multiple licenses to practice telemedicine in other states, Reimbursement (when we started, only about 8 states health insurance carriers paid for this service and Georgia was one), Provider and patient adoption of the new technology, and Connecting all of the technology “Dots.”

Now, almost 30 states pay for some form of telemedicine services and there are over 400 pieces of legislation pending to promote the use of telemedicine. We may have been ahead of our time, but we learned so much in those early years about how to make this type of service work!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Women’s Telehealth is based in the Atlanta, GA area, but we are licensed to provide sub-specialty women’s services and high-risk OB care via telemedicine to patients in GA, SC, NC, TN, FL, and AL. We use a variety of ways to connect, but in general, we use a secure network, telemedicine enabled hardware/software and have trained healthcare providers experienced in using telemedicine. We employ physicians, ultrasonographers, medical assistants, reimbursement specialists and administrative staff. We also provide long distance telemedicine training services.

What sets us apart from our competitor in the field of high risk OB telemedicine is our people and our vast experience in this field. Some academic centers only provide 100-200 telemedicine visits per year and we complete thousands of encounters each year. We have been published nationally by the American Telemedicine Association, speak frequently at conferences and been featured by the WSJ and NPR.

Of course, we are most proud of saving mom’s and babies lives in areas where there is no other high-risk OB service available…. and we love being telemedicine ambassadors! It’s super cool.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was always interested in science and helping people- especially kids. I went to college and became a nurse, specializing in pediatric oncology. A sense of humor and a strong faith got me through many days. After moving to California, I became interested in the “business” side of healthcare and worked for Johnson and Johnson and HCA Hospitals. Although I never went back into clinical nursing, I always felt that in the area of business development and operations, I could influence and be the cheerleader to uphold many healthcare efforts. When I moved to Atlanta, I went into the women’s health field. It has not escaped me throughout my career, I have been privileged to spend “the beginning of life” moments and “the end of life moments” with patients- and these moments have been sacred.

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