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13May

The Future of Telemedicine: The ATA 2019 Annual Meeting

by Eugene Rhee, Co-Chair of the AUA Urology Telehealth Task Force

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The 2019 American Telemedicine Association (ATA) brought together healthcare professionals and leaders from an array of healthcare and technology sectors, April 14-16 in New Orleans. The American Urological Association sent the AUA Telehealth Task Force delegation to this meeting to learn, innovate, and network. The Task Force returned with actionable insights, lasting connections, and an enhanced appreciation of telehealth. The ATA is a nonprofit association based in Washington, DC, with a membership of more than 10,000 industry leaders and healthcare professionals.

The meeting, the third AUA representatives attended, had access to more than 100 sessions themed around emerging best practices, tools, and techniques for building telehealth. There are more than 150 exhibitors with the latest in telehealth technologies.

Dr. Eugene Rhee (Co-Chair of the AUA Telehealth Task Force), Dr. Errol Singh (member of the AUA Telehealth Task Force), Dr. Neil Baum, (AUA member) and Mrs. Stephanie Stinchcomb-Stork (AUA Director of Payment Policy) attended this meeting.

The subjects presented included: “The Economics of Telemedicine;” “The Nudge Toolkit: Using Behavioral Economics in Telemedicine;” “How to Influence Telehealth Policy at the State Level; ” Leveraging Teleconsultations: A Powerful Model to Address Physician Shortages;” “Payer Panel on Telehealth;” “Hear from CMS on Medicare Reimbursement: Virtual Care Codes and Telehealth Services;” “Update on the ATA Telehealth Interoperability Initiative;” “The Ethics & Regulations of AI;” “How AI and Advanced Analytics Drive Innovation in Next- Gen Medicine” to name a few.

This national meeting has clearly changed from presentations in years past from innovative ways technology is being used to deliver healthcare to more robust presentations and networking events addressing regulation & reimbursement. There is now more emphasis on how digital technology can provide quality and population health metrics in a variety of practices.

This movement towards regulation & reimbursement with data aggregation to explore quality metrics in large populations is well underway today. Legislation at federal & state levels require advocacy priorities as urged by Senator Bill Cassidy (R- LA), a friend to urology. He discussed removing federal barriers to telehealth and the promising future within healthcare in Congress. He implored the audience that physicians and their patients must advocate for easing regulations in this space. This is an important point for urology. The AUA Public Policy Council recognizes this call, deploying the AUA Telehealth Task Force to strategically direct advocacy both on a federal & state level while working with Coding & Reimbursement and Practice Management, to produce a toolkit for urology that provides a clearer pathway to deliver this care.

Finally, there is profound gratitude that the AUA recognizes the volunteer urologists and the staff who work in this exciting space, exploring new frontiers to provide access to care while preserving the quality of that care.