So far, about 175 organizations have registered for the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) accreditation program for online patient consultations, with 125 receiving credible eligibility status, reported Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the ATA, at the association's monthly webcast.
The three-year accreditation is geared toward consultation sites, services and organizations that are directly visible to the consumer. “The overwhelming success just shows the growth in the direct to consumer market,” he said. The program, which is currently open to specific ATA members, will be rolled out to the public on March 1.
In other news, the association announced the future rollout of a new outcomes center that will provide a searchable database od outcomes studies for telehealth. These studies will pertain to the cost/benefits of telemedicine and quality outcomes, according to Linkous.
Through this program, the association will offer complete bibliographic search of studies. “It’s important if you are developing a new program that you see what’s out there,” he said.
On the policy front, telehealth and health IT are making some inroads, according to Gary Capistrant, ATA's senior director of public policy. As part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21 st Century Cures bill, new legislation called the SOFTWARE Act, which would include items aimed at stimulating development of medical devices and drugs, may include provisions advancing telehealth.
Telemedicine will likely be a component of the package. Capistrant said the association will focus on two priorities in its comments on the legislation: that telehealth is covered in both accountable care and as part of bundled payments.
On a side note, Capistrant predicted that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ call to accelerate quality-based payments may have ramifications for telehealth. “There is a lot of high level interest in telehealth.”