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ATA: Meaningful Use Means Telemedicine

April 30, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is having its annual event this year in San Jose, Calif. with over 4,500 healthcare professional attendees, 450 presentations, and an exhibit hall with 200 product and service vendors. Along with its annual event, the ATA is promoting the integration of telemedicine services into the use of EHRs and related health information technologies.

"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."

The ATA says its position represents a growing consensus among consumers, providers and payers that telemedicine should be an important component of reformed healthcare. The group uses the following as reasons for justifying its stance.

1. A majority of consumers now want remote access to care – According to a new Deloitte survey of health care consumers 55 percent 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. 

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.

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