The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) supports expanded use of telemedicine as an appropriate and efficient means of improving health, when conducted in a manner supportive of longitudinal care and within the context of appropriate standards of care.
Over the past year, OrthoLive has talked frequently about best practices for telehealth applications as well as discussing underlying issues thwarting widespread use of these technology tools. Together, we’ve explored topics ranging from how the VA uses telehealth to how these tools can reduce hospital readmissions.
What’s missing from the discussion so far is an understanding of how other healthcare organizations view telehealth. What respected healthcare leaders use the technology? What organizations support or endorse telemedicine? This article will look at what the rest of the healthcare community has to say about the virtual house call technology known as telehealth.
National Organizations Supporting Telehealth
American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians (ACP) website says they are:
- The largest group of internists;
- The largest medical-specialty organization;
- And the second-largest physician group in the U.S.
The organization is made up of 154,000 internists, internal medicine subspecialists, medical students, residents, and fellows. The organization is an advocacy and watchdog group that also offers clinical and public policy best practices in the healthcare field. They also publish frequently via several industry publications, including the peer-reviewed Annals of Internal Medicine. It is this journal that documents widespread acceptance of telehealth across the medical specialties governed by this organization. The ACP states that they have:
…compiled pragmatic recommendations on the use of telemedicine in the primary care setting, physician considerations for those who use telemedicine in their practices, and policy recommendations on the practice and reimbursement of telemedicine.
These policy recommendations state that telehealth reduces costs, improves health outcomes, and increases access to needed medical care.
American Hospital Association
The AHA was launched in 1898 as a national organization for hospitals and healthcare networks. Today, the AHA has approximately 5,000 hospitals, healthcare systems, and other providers, as well as 43,000 individual members, according to their website. The organization sets best practices and disseminates information and training, as well as serving as an advocacy and legislative lobbying arm for the healthcare industry.
The AHA “supports the expansion of patient access created by hospitals’ efforts to deliver high-quality and innovative telehealth services.” The organization has been tracking the use of telehealth in our nation’s emergency rooms, for remote patient care, and to provide access to specialty care. The telehealth page on their website reports that the technology is growing, “to the point where more than half of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners through the use of video and other technology.” However, the website also notes that policy issues and payment restrictions have been slowing down the use of these tools. The AHA supports expansion of telehealth and continued breaking down of the barriers to adoption such as payment restrictions and multi-state licensure.
American Medical Association
Founded in 1847, the AMA remains the largest association of physicians and medical students in the nation. The organization plays a key advocacy role in healthcare as well as publishing peer-reviewed articles on healthcare clinical protocols, medicine, and policy. The organization was one of the first to announce their support of telehealth technology, stating:
Telemedicine technology has the potential to transform health care delivery and address many care coordination challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system. It can facilitate remote, mobile and site-to-site medical care. Telemedicine, a key innovation in support of health care delivery reform, is being used in initiatives to improve access to care, care coordination and quality and when properly used has the potential to reduce the rate of growth in health care spending.
Further, the AMA has been a vocal advocate at the federal level for legislative initiatives involving telemedicine and exhibited strong leadership in developing ethical practices for the use of these tools. Their policy positions suggest that telehealth has multiple benefits, including:
- Increased speed of patient diagnoses.
- Increased access to care for remote and rural populations.
- Decreased healthcare costs.
- Serving as a remedy to physician shortages.
AMA even offers a telehealth module in their STEPS Forward™ training for medical practice improvement, making the technology as a clear-cut way for clinical providers to improve care delivery.
Industry Leaders Supporting Telehealth
The world-renowned Cleveland Clinic is a leader in the healthcare industry. With 1,400 beds in Cleveland, Ohio and another nearly 6,000 beds across the system, the organization is as large as it is well respected. The Cleveland Clinic has been offering telehealth through a program they call “Cleveland Clinic Express Care® Online tool.” This free mobile app lets patients dial in for a consult or clinical visit virtually from “anywhere you can get online.” The service offers 24/7 on-demand visits or scheduled visits, treating everything from back strains to upper respiratory illness. The service also has a variety of specialty services available including diabetes education and dermatology.
Like the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic is a sprawling multi-state integrated health system that offers cutting-edge advanced care. The Mayo Clinic’s website states that the organization treats 1.3 million patients from all 50-states and 136-countries. The Mayo Clinic’s work is at the cutting-edge of advanced science; there are literally thousands of research studies being undertaken each year to help improve the health outcomes of people everywhere.
The Mayo Clinic uses telemedicine in a variety of settings. First, the organization uses digital technology to transmit pictures and video from rural emergency rooms to a remote Mayo Clinic specialist. These remote specialists evaluate patients and make diagnoses all while providing support to a rural ER doctor in a community hospital. The clinic website says, “Doctors communicate using digital video cameras, internet telecommunications, robotic telepresence, mobile devices and other technologies.” Further, the organization has made rapid and effective use of telemedicine tools to treat stroke patients.
Join the Telehealth Evolution
While these are just a handful of the organizations that use and support telehealth, OrthoLive is standing by with a telemedicine application designed specifically for your orthopedic practice. Contact us to join the telehealth evolution.
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