Regenstrief Institute research scientists and telehealth experts Michael Weiner, M.D., and Joy L. Lee, PhD, shared their expertise about telemedicine during an American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Innovation Network Virtual Panel Discussion on the applications and future of this type of healthcare. The forum was the AMA’s most popular ever.
Telemedicine has been rapidly deployed and expanded by health systems across the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual conversation featured 21 experts from health services, public health, psychiatry and other specialties from organizations such as the Texas Medical Association, Yale School of Medicine and the AMA. It was conducted in a text format, with users submitting questions for discussion. The topics covered expanding coverage for telehealth, privacy protection, asynchronous modes of telemedicine, and best practices for implementing telehealth, among others.
Dr. Weiner, who is the associate director of the Regenstrief Institute William M. Tierney Center for Health Services Research, spoke about the opportunity for the medical community to expand the use of technology in healthcare. “As bad as COVID-19 is, perhaps a bright spot is the increased recognition of the value of telehealth care,” wrote Dr. Weiner during the discussion. “Although we know a lot about the digital divide, that divide has narrowed quickly with mobile devices, cellular service, and the expansion of WIFI, such that telecare can now decrease disparities and improve access.” Dr. Weiner is also the director of the VA Health Services Research and Development Center for Health Information and Communication and a professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Dr. Lee, a Regenstrief research scientist and assistant professor at IU School of Medicine, addressed the challenges that must be overcome to make telehealth successful. “Building rapport, assessing understanding, proper consent are all possible via telemedicine, just as they are in-person,” she wrote. “But these activities all require some delicate effort and attention to make patients and clinicians comfortable doing this via telemedicine.”
The online discussion forum received more than 101,000 views.