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Transform Health Care With Technology

by AHIP Chief Medical Officer Richard Bankowitz & Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of American Telemedicine Association

June 6, 2018

American Telemedicine Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans Partner in Support of Telehealth

Technology has empowered consumers and transformed many aspects of our lives, making banking, shopping, and interacting with friends and family faster and easier. Health care should be no different.

Increasingly, consumers are gaining virtual access to health care clinicians 24/7. This type of virtual care can make it more convenient to interact with clinicians to manage chronic health conditions and to address routine health problems such as a fever or earache.

Telehealth is an integral part of improving and transforming health care. It is a great tool for behavioral health counseling, advice on diet and nutrition, and better care coordination. Through telehealth, children with asthma can access a specialist from a school nurse’s office during a flare up, and pregnant women can receive guidance on pre-natal care from the comfort of their homes.

Moreover, telehealth can increase access to primary and specialty care, improve quality and patient engagement, better leverage clinician expertise and time, all while saving money. As this great potential turns into reality, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) will showcase the many ways telehealth services can benefit consumers, patients, and providers.

For over two decades, ATA has been the thought leader around telehealth, helping to transform health care by improving the quality, equity, and affordability of care throughout the world. The use of telehealth has spread rapidly and is now integrated into hospitals, specialty departments, home health, and physicians’ offices, as well as people’s homes and workplaces. AHIP and its members have likewise taken a leadership role in advancing telehealth access. Health insurance providers offer access to telehealth services across employers, the individual market, and people with Medicaid and Medicare Advantage coverage.

Stakeholders agree that telehealth is a critical part of the future of health care, with access and use growing exponentially. For example:

  • At Kaiser Permanente, more than half of its patient visits in 2016 occurred virtually
  • A 2017 survey by the National Business Group on Health found 90 percent of employers will make telehealth services available to employees, a sharp increase from 70 percent a year prior.

The ATA and AHIP seek to enhance consumer access to health services via telehealth, and as a result, make it easier for people to manage chronic health conditions and access routine care. Through a series of blog posts, we will highlight some of the best practices, trends, and barriers that need to be addressed, and look to the future evolution of telehealth.