The Global Telehealth Network Team
JACK HIGGINS, MD
President & Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Jack Higgins is the Founder of the Global Telehealth Network (GTN) and now serves as its President and Chief Medical Officer. He currently is working full-time in the nonprofit sector and serves in leadership roles with several other nonprofit organizations.
He joined the Board of Directors of RotaCare Bay Area in 2000, and currently serves as President. RotaCare is a nonprofit organization that operates 10 free clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area, where volunteer physicians and nurses provide free medical care for people who have no insurance and cannot afford to pay for health care services.
Since 2001 he has served on the Board of Directors of Child Health and AIDS Prevention (CHAP) – formerly known as the Los Altos Rotary AIDS Project (LARAP) – and is currently Vice-President. Based in Los Altos, California, the nonprofit organization was founded in 1989 as the first effort anywhere in the world of Rotary to address the AIDS crisis. Initial activities included production of a Peabody Award-winning film intended to increase awareness and reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Now known as Child Health and AIDS Prevention, the organization has been focused on efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Africa and Asia, and recently has broadened its scope to include other efforts to improve maternal and child health in low- and medium-resource countries.
In 2014 Dr. Higgins traveled to Liberia to help launch a program in partnership with the organization, Save the Children. With funds raised by LARAP and a grant from The Rotary Foundation, this program trained and equipped nurses practicing in 28 rural health clinics to offer testing and counseling for pregnant women, and when found to be HIV-positive, to provide treatment for both mother and newborn child.
A member of Rotary International for 30 years and of the Rotary Club of Los Altos since 2001, he recently completed a term on the Club’s Board as the Director for International Service. During that 2-year period, the club’s World Community Service Committee was involved in over two dozen international humanitarian projects.
Prior to devoting full-time effort to nonprofit activities, Dr. Higgins served as Chief Medical Officer for Avantis Medical Systems, a medical device company based in Silicon Valley. In that role, he worked with engineers on the design and testing of novel devices that improved the diagnostic accuracy of colonoscopy. He also trained physicians in the United States, Europe and Japan in use of the devices and supported investigators in five countries as they conducted successful clinical research studies involving those devices.
Before beginning work in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000, Dr. Higgins practiced Family Medicine in the Chico, California area for 20 years, with an emphasis on preventive health. Throughout that time, he held leadership roles in community health promotion efforts, including colorectal cancer and breast cancer screening programs, as well as multiple campaigns in collaboration with local and state affiliates of the American Heart Association, American Lung Association and American Cancer Society. He also served as spokesperson for a coalition involving all three of those organizations that successfully promoted one of California’s earliest local ordinances that banned smoking in bars, restaurants and other places of business to protect employees and customers from exposure to second-hand smoke.
His health promotion activities in Chico at times included a weekly newspaper column, as well as regular health and fitness segments on the evening news program of the local CBS-TV affiliate.
He began his telehealth activities in 1992, when he conducted a one-year demonstration project providing pro bono consults for patients at a rural clinic in the Trinity Mountains of northern California. A Nurse Practitioner ran the clinic four days per week, but it was closed on Mondays. When patients appeared at the clinic on Mondays expecting to find the NP, the paramedic who operated the ambulance service in the same building would call Dr. Higgins at his office in Chico. Using a rather primitive (pre-Internet) two-way video system over telephone lines, they were able to diagnose and treat most problems, allowing patients to avoid a 4-hour round trip to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Dr. Higgins earned his MD degree from Michigan State University and completed residency training in Family Practice. He later completed a Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, where he focused on development of programs in international telehealth. He has served on the clinical faculties of Stanford University, University of California, Davis and the Western University of Health Sciences.