Telemedicine association to create accreditation programNews added by Benefits Pro on August 5, 2014

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By Dan Cook

As telemedicine continues to transform the medical delivery landscape, a nonprofit dedicated to setting standards for telemedicine said it will soon have an accreditation program in place. The program is designed “to help consumers make good choices … and reassure patients and consumers that online medical consultations are both convenient and safe.”

So states Edward Brown, chief executive officer of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, and president of American Telemedicine Association, who added: “The need and growing consumer demand for these services is undeniable.”

As part of the development of the accreditation program, the ATA surveyed 475 individuals in the health care industry to see where they were at in providing telemedicine services. Here's what the survey revealed:
  • 47 percent of providers who responded to the poll are currently providing online services directly to patients;

  • video (77 percent), audio (57 percent), and peripheral devices (28 percent) are the top three delivery modes in use;

  • 72 percent of those who do not currently deliver virtual services are considering implementing them in the near future.
With so many practices already engaged in telemedicine, or on the verge of offering the services, the ATA said it was imperative that an accreditation program be made available to those seeking high performer status.

“For more than two decades, ATA’s members have worked with their respective medical societies, health systems, payers, government agencies and consumer groups to develop standards and guidelines,” said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of ATA. “This initiative is a logical next step in ATA’s mission to promote professional, ethical and equitable improvement in health care delivery through telecommunications and information technology.”

The program, ATA said, “will be based on guidelines codifying best practices and confer ATA’s official recognition of providing organizations who meet the guidelines established in the accreditation.”

A committee of stakeholders including independent researchers, clinicians, payers, representatives from governmental agencies, and medical service provider executives will be selected to guide the accreditation process.

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