ATA Urges Clinicians to Take Charge, Own Virtual Care Innovation

At the recent American Telemedicine Association conference, some heavy hitters in the telehealth world said the future will be guided by care providers who make virtual care their own. Health system leaders looking for sustainability in telehealth should be focusing not on the latest technology, but on how providers are adapting virtual care to their own needs.

Roy Schoenberg, president and CEO of AmWell, says the industry is well past proving the value of the audio-visual telehealth encounter. And as the nation looks to move further away from the pandemic, virtual care will be defined by how it's now being used to improve clinical outcomes and clinician workloads. "If we can always be next to the consumer … we can completely rewrite how we care for them," he said during a main stage appearance at ATA2022 earlier this month in Boston.

 In a conference attended by healthcare providers and decision-makers, the theme of "Now What?" was seen as a challenge to the healthcare industry to go beyond validating telehealth and get to the job of using it.

A lot of the discussion was shaded by the understanding that the regulatory landscape around telehealth is still uncertain. The industry has been allowed to flourish under emergency federal and state measures enacted during the public health emergency (PHE) to expand access and coverage, but there's no clear idea yet what will remain and what will be lost when the PHE expires. In that context, Schoenberg said, healthcare leaders need to step up and take the initiative. "Telehealth is not static it's changing," he told ATA CEO Ann Mond Johnson during a keynote. And healthcare must keep up.

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