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The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), the premier organization working to accelerate the adoption of telehealth, announced the launch and first phase of action in a new initiative to assess the applications of telehealth in addressing and eliminating health disparities in the U.S. Led by a team of leaders in diverse healthcare areas including providers, payers, community health organizations and policymakers, the new ATA CEO's Advisory Group on Using Telehealth to Eliminate Disparities and Inequities has worked to outline a new framework for eliminating health disparities that will be the foundation of ongoing strategic analysis and a series of policy recommendations in the months ahead.

"In recent years, we have seen rapidly growing evidence that telehealth services can and should play a central role in strategies to address health disparities in the U.S. Our new ATA CEO's Advisory Group brings together globally recognized leaders in health policy and service delivery who are uniquely positioned to outline the optimal strategies to use telehealth to address this very significant challenge," said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA. "With insights from a range of stakeholders, the Advisory Group has introduced a framework that identifies the essential components of a comprehensive plan that can make a positive difference for millions of patients and healthcare systems."

Led by Kristi Henderson, DNP, NP-C, FAAN, CEO of MedExpress & Optum Virtual Care, and Chair-elect of the ATA, Yasmine Winkler, director, GEHA Health and ATA board member, and Ron Wyatt, MD, MHA, vice president and patient safety officer, MCIC Vermont, the CEO's Advisory Group on Using Telehealth to Eliminate Disparities and Inequities is working to outline a new roadmap to address inequalities in the delivery of healthcare information and services with a focus on both access and improving outcomes. With perspectives from stakeholders including care teams, community health leaders, policymakers and telehealth service providers, the first phase of the strategy includes an overview of the components of a strategic plan to address disparities in the years ahead.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to create innovative ways to use telehealth to break down barriers to care," said Henderson. "The insight that each leader is providing is essential to identify what those barriers are from connectivity to affordability and health literacy so that we can collectively make the health system more accessible to everyone."

"As we have seen exponential growth in the applications of telehealth services in recent years, we also now have an historic opportunity to consider entirely new approaches to address these challenges more effectively than ever before," added Winkler.

"Over the next year, the Advisory Group will outline a series of steps designed to help the healthcare sector as well as patient communities and government leaders better understand and take direct action on opportunities to apply services in telehealth to a wide range of programs," said Wyatt. "These efforts will be designed to improve convenience and fairness in access to care for millions of patients in the U.S. based on the framework outlined in the first stage of this effort."

To access the first Advisory Group report, click here.


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