American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference (May 2010)

Mike Clark

San Antonio, Texas was the venue for the annual American Telemedicine Association Conference  (May, 2010) with over 3000 delegates in attendance and double the exhibition space compared with 2009. About the concept: genesis, vision, understanding in modern culture and involvement in mass media, search in prime essay and you will be ready for the conference.

Many of the challenges to implementing telehealth are global – cost, return on investment, evidence and cultural change.  The USA has additional barriers to overcome – reimbursement for care episodes and state licensing for physicians. Given these constraints, momentum continues to build for telehealth and telemedicine implementation with support from the highest levels such as President Obama’s Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra.

Telemedicine tends to be more developed in the USA and Canada primarily because of huge distances that patients need to travel to attend a clinic in states such as Alaska or New Mexico. Additionally, Medicaid reimburses patient travel expenses, so any applications that reduce consultation costs through remote monitoring or video-conferencing whilst providing a high quality patient experience are likely to be well-received.

Conference plenary and concurrent sessions (over 350) highlighted the extensive scope of telehealth and telemedicine including telerehabilitation, telemental health services, palliative and hospice telehealth and paediatric telehealth. The US military are at the cutting edge of many American telemedicine programmes and initiatives and provided examples of devices and solutions that could appear in the mainstream health services of the future.

Turning to the exhibition, over 200 exhibitors provided a wide range of products and services from tiny sensors to fully-equipped buses and trailers operating as mobile clinics with networks linked to remote clinical expertise for real time consultations in rural areas. Major global companies were in evidence including telecommunication network providers who are now actively partnering with device manufacturers and service integrators.

There were few telecare (or PERS, Personal Emergency Response System) providers in evidence. Although pendant alarms are now increasingly common in the USA and Canada, only a limited range of additional sensors are in use in people’s homes compared with the UK.  Notable devices were a pendant alarm that incorporates a falls monitor, a pendant with communication options up to 600 feet from a base unit and a REM (rapid eye movement) under-mattress sleep monitor that works with PIR (Passive infrared) room sensors to monitor lifestyle and sleep patterns.

Additional trends evident at the conference included:

•       Use of mobile and cellphone technology to provide monitoring, alerts, reminders etc

•       Broadband options with educational and customisable content for telecoaching

•       Connected systems with social networking options to provide online support by families for people with long term conditions

•       Cassette-based medication dispensers with prompts, reminders and compliance monitoring – people not adhering to their medication schedules is a big issue

•       Self install and ‘consumer’ purchases that can be mailed and simply plugged into a phone socket with instant Bluetooth connection for peripheral devices

•       A flexible range of service purchase and leasing options to provide end to end solutions as well as equipment purchases

•       More device intelligence eg a spirometer that can link to weather forecasts for asthmatics

•       A range of lifestyle and well-being options (eg links to pedometers and fitness programmes) as well as long term conditions

•       More competitive and sometimes significantly lower unit prices than in the UK


ATA 2010

ATA 2010 – abstracts

Telemedicine & e-Health Journal Award at ATA Conference - Economic Evaluation of Telemedicine: Review of the Literature and Research Guidelines for Benefit–Cost Analysis

Technology chief Chopra calls for innovation (ATA Conference)

ATA Exhibitor Guide

Mike Clark is co-Project Lead for WSDAN