The American Telemedicine Association is teaming up with a Washington, D.C.-area primary-care practice to attempt to prove the value of telemedicine as an employee benefit that can promote worker health and productivity, reduce absenteeism and save money--and to secure a place for telemedicine in a reformed healthcare system.
"Our practice can solve over 55 percent of our patients' medical issues by phone or email consultation--no office visit needed," says Dr. Alan Dappen, founder of DocTalker Family Medicine, the Vienna, Va., practice that is working with the association on a pilot program to show how doctors can deliver care via telephone, email, Internet and video conferencing as alternatives to office visits in many instances. "When a patient calls, a member of our medical team picks up the phone, round-the-clock, even on nights and weekends. This way the doctor first to know what's happening and care can start immediately," Dappen explains.
For the pilot, DocTalker will provide remote health services for employees of ATA and its member organizations, and the ATA would like the practice to serve as a model for others to follow."We at the ATA decided that it was time that we mainstream telemedicine. Our member organizations have amazing technologies to offer, and until the general public gets used to using telemedicine as an integral part of their day-to-day healthcare, then the telemedicine industry will not garner the wide usage it deserves," says ATA chief executive Jonathan Linkous.
The timing of the announcement is no coincidence. "Telemedicine is one of the essential components upon which healthcare reform must be built. It is key to eliminating at least 1 million office visits a day while, keeping patients in continuous communications with their doctor, and cutting the outrageous costs of our current healthcare system," Dappen says.
To learn more about this collaboration:
- have a look at this ATA press release