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5 Key Take-aways from ATA 2017

This year’s American Telemedicine Association conference just wrapped up this week in Orlando. The theme, Telehealth 2.0, emphasized that when it’s done right, telehealth can benefit patients and providers, and they both prefer it. Throughout the numerous panels and talks, the tremendous growth of the industry brings innovation and technology—along with growing pains, such as a lack of collaboration or agreement on best practices. In case you missed it, here are the top five takeaways from the conference.

1. Patients like telemedicine!

Consumers may be skeptical of video chatting with a doctor, but they’re attracted to the convenience of telemedicine. However, when they give telemedicine a try, they really like it. Telemedicine is shifting the focus from provider-based care to consumer-based care, leading to high patient satisfaction. For instance, the Chat With a Doc program, sponsored by Colorado Permanente Medical Group, increased patient volumes from the time it was launched—without any promotion, and over three-quarters of the patients surveyed rated the program highly.

2. Telemedicine needs standards and guidelines.

Several presenters bemoaned the lack of evidence-based clinical guidelines for providers. Many organizations have created their own guidelines and best practices, which can provide a launching point, but very few cross-company guidelines exist.

3. The industry needs more collaboration.

As the industry expands, so will the need for collaboration. Industry leaders should work together to keep the telemedicine field safe and credible as well as increasing value, efficiency, and cost savings. Other concerns include proper diagnoses, effective treatment plans, fragmentation of care, and sharing data to help everyone provide the best care.

4. Telemedicine is more than technology.

Technology is fun, but exhibitors also touted EHR software, workflow consultations, data gathering, and interoperability. Five years ago, the focus was on hardware; now, it’s on the people using the hardware.

5. Physician buy-in is crucial.

As noted by telehealth services provider Advanced ICU Care, vendors must gain the trust of the providers who will use the systems; otherwise, the organization won’t fully commit. Rural physicians face a different challenge; telemedicine removes their isolation and can make them feel that someone is watching.

To view the highlights of the conference, click here.

To learn more about the ATA, click here.

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