At my request, one of the attendees at ATA, Mark VanderWerf, founder of AMD Telemedicine and a prior board member of ATA, sent me this commentary on the recent San Antonio event. Further attendee comments are invited.
From Mark VanderWerf, now with Telehealth Advisors (Received May 24 2010).
"About ATA. The ATA is focused on providing increased access to care, chronic disease management, patient wellness product and services. These directly affect seniors and their caregivers. Telemedicine allows the same quality of care and access to the same medical expertise that is available in major cites to be available in small towns, retirement communities and even outside of the US, greatly increasing the options for retirement living. Chronic disease management and patient monitoring have been widely proven to keep patients with chronic disease healthier with fewer acute events and less hospitalization. This allows patients to remain independent in their homes and substantially reduces the cost of care. Care givers are also supported by tools that assist them to manage a patient’s condition and send alerts when intervention is needed. Mobile monitoring and other new technologies will expand these benefits further to keep patient healthier longer.
The ATA conference was a positive surprise. In a business economy where conference attendance is down in almost every industry, attendance at the ATA was up almost 30% and the exhibitor space increased from 100,000 to 200,000 sq ft. The mood was exciting and optimistic. This renewed optimism appears to be bolstered by the new Federal health legislation that applies more funding and focus to coordinated care, chronic disease management and healthcare outcomes, rather than just today’s costly pay for service approach. There was also optimism resulting from added states' mandating reimbursement for patient encounters via telemedicine. This bodes well for patients and health plans, as well as the companies that provide products and services.
The technology showed steady evolution rather than revolution. Health technologies for the patient’s home including disease monitors, medication management, instant response and information devices are well proven. The price of this technology continues to drop, and more services that bring the technology to the user were evident but technical change was incremental. The big change was the change in optimism. The general consensus is that the barriers that have constrained these types of healthcare that have shown benefits for years are finally being lifted."