WASHINGTON – Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 - The Board of Directors of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has approved the development of an accreditation program for providers of online medical consultations. The program 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.
Virtual doctor consultations are transforming the delivery of healthcare. Through online visits, consumers are able to access care for routine and urgent health problems without having to leave home or work. With projected physician shortages, increasing wait times and rising healthcare costs, online consultations are a tool to improve healthcare delivery. A growing number of private payers and employers are providing online services as a way to safely and efficiently expand access to care and relieve pressure on hospital providers.
“The need and growing consumer demand for these services is undeniable, and so is the need to help consumers make good choices,” said Edward M. Brown, MD, chief executive officer of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, and president of ATA. “I’m confident that this program will help reassure patients and consumers that online medical consultations are both convenient and safe.”
“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 healthcare delivery through telecommunications and information technology.”
ATA will assemble a broad group of stakeholders—including independent researchers, clinicians, payers, representatives from governmental agencies, as well as executives from industry including online medical service providers—to help develop the accreditation process. The effort will be supported by an evaluation of validated, impartial research of online medical services and an assessment of practices by existing providers.
About the American Telemedicine Association
The American Telemedicine Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is the leading resource for the delivery of healthcare using telecommunications technologies. ATA and its diverse membership of medical institutions, professionals and healthcare and technology companies work together to guide the use of telemedicine to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.americantelemed.org.