The need and growing consumer demand for these services is undeniable, but so is the need to guarantee that online providers assure quality and patient safety.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) September 05, 2012
The Board of Directors of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has approved the development of a certification program for providers of online medical consultations to consumers. The program will be based on guidelines codifying best practices and quality metrics and confer an official seal of approval to providing organizations who meet the high standards set in the guidelines.
Virtual doctor consultations are transforming the delivery of primary health care. 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 the delivery of healthcare. A growing number of private payers and employers are providing online services as a way to safely and efficiently expand access to primary care and relieve pressure on hospital providers.
“The need and growing consumer demand for these services is undeniable, but so is the need to guarantee that online providers assure quality and patient safety,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. “ATA has been developing standards and guidelines for the practice of telemedicine for over twelve years and ATA is in the best position to develop protocols that will ensure the safe use of online medical consultations.”
ATA is assembling a broad group of stakeholders—including independent researchers, clinicians, payers, representatives from governmental agencies and executives from industry including online medical service providers – to be involved in the development of the proposed guidelines. The effort will be supported by an evaluation of validated, impartial research on the effectiveness and quality of such services and an assessment of practices by existing providers.
Based on the guidelines, ATA will develop the certification program with a recognizable seal of approval that can be used by consumers and payers.
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 http://www.americantelemed.org.