Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Telemedicine and Health Reform: a little progress, a lot of hope

Over the past few months you have heard a lot from ATA about the various machinations going on with national health reform. Starting out with high hopes we have witnessed the usual highs and lows of the legislative process. ATA has promoted a broad expansion of governmental support for telemedicine, only to have parts of it dashed by a few parties that refuse to consider what telemedicine can do for cost savings and improved quality of care. However, most of our problems are that telemedicine is lost under the shouting and publicity around the overall costs of health reform.

However, telemedicine has a lot of friends in high places.

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission held a workshop on healthcare and broadband. It amounted to a love fest for telemedicine. President Obama's Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, gave a strong close. He stated: “We can’t move forward in advancing our nation’s health reform goals without the appropriate use of technology and telemedicine is a key component.” He went on to recount personal experiences and his perspectives on how critical telemedicine can be for the nation. Clearly, Chopra gets it.

In addition to Chopra, three important members of ATA were asked to speak at the meeting: ATA President Karen Rheuban, ATA President-Elect Dale Alverson and Chair of ATA’s Standards Committee Nina Antoniotti. All three gave outstanding presentations. Details of the meeting and a recorded version of the webcast are available at: http://www.americantelemed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3337#updates

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