April 26, 2012 — The American Telemedicine Association applauds the ongoing development of electronic medical records and related health information technologies. These systems lead to greater provider and payer administrative efficiencies; but more importantly, they are a vehicle for improving healthcare quality, increasing access and reducing costs through telemedicine. The complete integration of telemedicine services is an essential element in establishing meaningful use of the investment in HIT. Telemedicine combines high-tech technologies and a human touch to improve the lives of patients, regardless of their location.
“Electronic records and IT systems mean little to the healthcare consumer if they aren’t integrated into the delivery of actual patient services,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “The government has its own definition, but for patients, ‘meaningful use’ means telemedicine.”
ATA’s position represents a growing consensus among consumers, providers and payers that telemedicine should be an important component of reformed healthcare. This is evidenced in the following developments:
1. A majority of consumers now want remote access to care – According to a new Deloitte survey of health care consumers 55% want to communicate with their doctors via email. 68% percent are interested in remote monitoring devices that allow self-monitoring of their condition and electronic reporting of results to their physician.
2. Congress addressing cross-state licensure issues – Congress has just passed a law eliminating duplicate state license requirements for physicians treating the nation’s military families and veterans. They are also exploring other solutions to streamline licensure, enabling physicians to remotely deliver healthcare anywhere in the country.
3. Billions announced for innovations in Medicare and Medicaid – The new CMS Innovation Center is about to announce up to $1 billion in grants for the winners of the Health Care Innovation Challenge. In addition, more than $1 billion more will be announced soon for other focused initiatives such as Bundled Payments, Comprehensive Primary Care, and the Strong Start Program.
4. The start of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) – The first set of 32 pioneer ACOs, serving 860,000 patients, was announced last December with others due to be announced this March and May. ATA estimates that one quarter of all Americans, 73 million patients, are now covered under some form of managed care health insurance program.
Source: American Telemedicine Association