The American Medical Association (AMA) believes that the appropriate use of telemedicine to deliver care to patients could greatly improve access and quality of care, while maintaining patient safety. During its Annual Meeting the AMA voted to approve a list of guiding principles for ensuring the appropriate coverage of and payment for telemedicine services. The principles aim to help foster innovation in the use of telemedicine, protect the patient-physician relationship and promote improved care coordination and communication with medical homes.
The guiding principles stem from a policy report developed by the AMA's Council on Medical Service addressing coverage and payment for telemedicine, which provided robust background on the delivery of telemedicine. It also outlined current coverage and telemedicine payment rules, a summary of specialty society practice guidelines and position statements on telemedicine, and case studies.
“We believe that a patient-physician relationship must be established to ensure proper diagnoses and appropriate follow up care,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D. “This new policy establishes a foundation for physicians to utilize telemedicine to help maintain an ongoing relationship with their patients, and as a means to enhance follow-up care, better coordinate care and manage chronic conditions.”
The evolution of telemedicine impacts all of the AMA's strategic focus areas: Improving Health Outcomes, EnhancingPhysician Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability and Accelerating Change in Medical Education. “Whether a patient is seeing his or her physician in person or via telemedicine, the same standards of care must be maintained. Telemedicine can strengthen the patient-physician relationship and improve access for patients to receive health care services remotely as medically appropriate including care for chronic conditions, which are proven ways to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs.”