AMA Policy Marks the Age of Telemedicine

The American Medical Association has been busy recently, working on ethical measure regarding telemedicine and even now, continues work in that vein. Its focus on telemedicine continues and has adopted a policy at its annual meeting in June that ensures that medical student and residents learn how to use telemedicine in the clinical practice. Truthfully, this is a major announcement by a major body with real power in healthcare and because of it policies will change. In this case related to telemedicine.

According to a statement on behalf of the AMA, the organization recognized that formalized training in telemedicine is not widely offered to physicians-in-training, thus the reason for the adopted policy. “The new policy specifically encourages the accrediting bodies for both undergraduate and graduate medical education to include core competencies for telemedicine in their programs,” the AMA said in a statement. “The new policy also reaffirms existing AMA policy, which supports reducing barriers to incorporating the appropriate use of telemedicine into the education of physicians.”

As the AMA focuses on the ethics of telemedicine, a measure it adopted at this same set of meetings to guide providers in their professional use of the technology, and most their members toward embracing more training and understanding of how to work within the parameters of the technology, major change is afoot.

"The vast majority of medical students are not being taught how to use technologies, such as telemedicine or electronic health records during medical school and residency. As innovation in care delivery and technology continue to transform healthcare, we must ensure that our current and future physicians have the tools and resources they need to provide the best possible care for their patients," said AMA Immediate past president Robert M. Wah, M.D. "In particular, exposure to and evidence-based instruction in telemedicine's capabilities and limitations at all levels of physician education will be essential to harnessing its potential"

The new policy extends the AMA's ongoing work with 32 of the nation's leading medical schools to create the medical school of the future, it also noted. As part of the AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, the 32 schools are working together through a learning community to incorporate the newest technologies that will help prepare future physicians to practice in the changing health care environment and better provide health care services to underserved populations. Obviously, with the investment with the adoption of this policy, it marks telemedicine as a major future development for care and patients.

The AMA launched its Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative in 2013 to bridge the gaps that exist between how medical students are trained and how healthcare is delivered. It is through this vein of training that the support for telemedicine training rests. According to the AMA, it has awarded $12.5 million in grants to 32 medical schools to develop innovative curricula that can ultimately be implemented in medical schools across the country. These innovative models are already supporting training for an estimated 19,000 medical students who will one day care for 33 million patients each year.

With this continued investment, and policies such as the telemedicine one, as an industry, it’s safe to say much, much more can be expected to come from this development. We’ve finally reached the age of telemedicine. IT just be nice to finally see it in practice. 

Scott Rupp's picture

Scott Rupp

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Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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