The American Medical Association has adopted new telehealth policy positions, the organization announced upon the Tuesday closing of a special five-day virtual meeting.

In an email sent to the press Nov. 18, the organization’s media department said the updated telemedicine playbook directs the AMA to advocate with lawmakers and regulators on codifying rules governing coverage, access and reimbursement.

The aim of the activity is to win buy-in from government officials and private insurers on the AMA’s rationale for advancing telehealth “throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

Along with a call to continue the AMA’s advocacy for prolific telehealth adoption across U.S. healthcare, the new policy resolutions include:

  • Advocating for the adoption of “clear and uniform laws, rules, regulations, and policies relating to telehealth services” that “provide equitable coverage that allows patients to access telehealth services wherever they are located.”
  • Pushing for equitable access to telehealth services, especially for at-risk and under-resourced patient populations and communities, “including but not limited to supporting increased funding and planning for telehealth infrastructure such as broadband and internet-connected devices for both physician practices and patients.”
  • Supporting the use of telehealth to remedy health disparities and widen access to healthcare for all.

The AMA media email notes that the issuance of the new telehealth policy coincides with the recent release of a report on physicians surveyed about telehealth by the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition.

AMA spotlights some key findings in the survey results:

  • 60% of respondents say telehealth has improved their patients’ health.
  • 68% are motivated to increase telehealth use in their practices.
  • 11% are using remote patient monitoring technologies with patients in their homes.
  • 55% say telehealth has improved their job satisfaction.
  • 80%-plus report that telehealth has improved the timeliness of care for their patients.

The survey also found barriers and challenges still exist and/or are anticipated beyond the pandemic. One glaring misgiving: almost three-quarters of the responding physicians believe low reimbursement, or none at all, will be a major challenge after the pandemic has passed.  

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