Sponsored Post

Top takeaways from ATA 2016

The American Telemedicine Association held its 21st annual conference in Minneapolis this month. Here are three key takeaways from the event: Telemedicine is progressing, but there’s more work to be done The good news for telemedicine: The ATA’s membership grew to about 10,000 from 8,500 last year, and the organization has had some success advancing […]

20160515_160658-e1463374971443-600x331The American Telemedicine Association held its 21st annual conference in Minneapolis this month. Here are three key takeaways from the event:

Telemedicine is progressing, but there’s more work to be done

The good news for telemedicine: The ATA’s membership grew to about 10,000 from 8,500 last year, and the organization has had some success advancing cross-state practice. At the federal level, the ATA worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to waive restrictions on urban telemedicine reimbursement in the Next Generation ACO Model and in bundled payments for joint replacements. And in February, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins announced that NIH would launch a “participants technologies center” this summer to, among other things, make telehealth part of the Precision Medicine Initiative.

But there’s still confusion around what telemedicine means for clinicians, some of whom think it will increase their workload. Also, the integration of telemedicine into electronic health records is wanting, and there’s still a shortage of clinical evidence around the efficacy of telemedicine. In fact, the conference became particularly heated when one attendee criticized another’s study that found doctors from some telemedicine sites misdiagnosed skin cancer and other conditions.

Telemedicine is saving health systems money

Telemedicine use at Phoenix-based Banner Health reduced the health system’s cost of care for 500 patients by $5 million. In its third year taking part in the Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program, Banner’s iCare telehealth model saved an estimated 1,890 lives and $109 million. The system’s patients spent 45,861 fewer days in the hospital and 46,435 fewer days in intensive care than had been predicted.

Telemedicine is already helping the youngest patients

Telemedicine can save the lives of critically ill babies born at hospitals in rural, small, and low-income, urban communities, according to Mayo Clinic researchers. Guidance provided by Mayo neonatologists to the neonatal teams at six participating hospitals prevented having to transfer some infants for critical care and helped stabilize others before transfer. Every transfer that was avoided saved the system $35,000, for a total of more than $1 million over the course of a three-year study.

As school nurse positions are disappearing, some school districts are turning to virtual nursing care via telemedicine. And telerehabilitation is helping children fitted with cochlear implants to improve their language skills.

Regardless of the advancements to date and work still to be done, ATA is dedicated to continued improvements and is looking forward to bringing industry visionaries together for more productive discussions during its Fall Forum in New Orleans and ATA 2017 in Orlando.