MINNEAPOLIS, June 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Zipnosis, the first virtual care company empowering health systems to launch virtual care service lines staffed by their own clinicians, applauds recent moves by the American Medical Association (AMA) to support the delivery of high-quality telemedicine as the industry continues to grow. At last week's 2016 AMA Annual Meeting, the association's membership approved three significant new policies supporting the high-quality implementation of telemedicine, or virtual care.
The newly approved initiatives adopt ethical guidelines for the implementation of telemedicine in clinical practice; called for parity laws to require private insurers to cover telemedicine-provided services comparable to that of in-person services; and encourage formalized training in telemedicine for medical school students and residents.
"We strongly support the AMA's significant new policies and guidance on telemedicine," said Zipnosis CEO Jon Pearce. "They are much needed and will be helpful in transitioning to a value-based care system in which patient experience, cost and quality are all driving factors in innovative approaches to care delivery."
AMA's Ethical Guidelines Support Telemedicine Adoption
The AMA's new ethical guidance on telehealth and telemedicine is intended to "help physicians understand how their fundamental responsibilities may play out differently when patient interactions occur through telemedicine, compared to traditional patient interactions at a medical office or hospital," according to an AMA statement. AMA's Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs developed the guidelines over the past three years, and AMA physicians from across the country voted to adopt them.
Specifically, the AMA guidance includes these recommendations, which Zipnosis addresses in the following ways:
- AMA guidance: Inform users about the limitations of services provided
Zipnosis solution: Because the Zipnosis platform is leveraged directly by health systems using their own providers, the virtual care provided is an entry point into the system, with contingencies built in to triage patients to video or telephone as needed, in-person visits, and/or laboratory diagnostics via the ZipTicket®.
- AMA guidance: Advise users how to arrange for follow-up care
Zipnosis solution: The Zipnosis platform offers health systems an integrated capability to provide patients with educational information, including follow-up care. Some clients even offer complimentary follow-ups to patients within a certain time frame.
- AMA guidance: Encourage users to inform their primary care doctor when they engage online with a telehealth provider
Zipnosis solution: Not only does the Zipnosis platform have the capability to integrate with health systems' EMRs for better coordination of care, the virtual care services also can serve as an entry point into the health system for patients who do not have a primary care physician or medical home.
The AMA said in a statement that the guidelines reflect a coordinated effort across the profession "to achieve the promise and avoid the pitfalls of telemedicine."
Pearce said: "This is something that Zipnosis, too, endorses—and it's why we have taken a proactive approach in sharing data and making ourselves accountable. As noted in my recent industry call to action, others in the market need to do the same."
Formal Telemedicine Training Brings Virtual Care Into Mainstream
AMA's adoption of a new policy to include formalized training in telemedicine for medical students and residents also "serves as a positive step in incorporating virtual health into the overall healthcare landscape rather than viewing it as an outlier," Pearce said.
In a statement about the announcement, AMA Immediate Past President Robert M. Wah, MD, said: "The vast majority of medical students are not being taught how to use technologies such as telemedicine or electronic health records during medical school and residency. As innovation in care delivery and technology continue to transform healthcare, we must ensure that our current and future physicians have the tools and resources they need to provide the best possible care for their patients."
Advocacy for Insurance Parity Laws
AMA agreed to advocate for telemedicine parity laws that require private insurers to cover telemedicine-provided services at reimbursement rates comparable to those for in-person services. The AMA also said it would develop model legislation to achieve parity at the state level and will work with state medical boards to draft model state legislation defining telemedicine for inclusion in state-level medical practice laws and regulations.
"The AMA has supported state medical societies in developing telemedicine policies, which have provided tremendous benefit to rural communities. But these benefits will continue to be limited if patients must pay out of pocket for the services that should be covered by insurance," said AMA board member Russell W.H. Kridel, MD, in a statement.
"The new guidelines and policies coming out of the AMA's annual meeting last week are positive, and together they show that virtual health is emerging as a legitimate player within the healthcare space," Pearce said. "Zipnosis' health system clients have already demonstrated that virtual care can be performed in a high-quality, cost-effective and convenient manner while saving healthcare dollars. Accomplishments such as these should be recognized by the provider community, and we all need to work together to ensure consistently high-quality virtual care across the industry."
Zipnosis partners with health systems nationwide to provide a white-labeled telemedicine virtual care platform, offering patients convenient access to care while improving clinician efficiency. Patients can be virtually treated for more than 90 conditions using an evidence-based adaptive online interviews, phone or video, or when a rapid test like strep is needed, directed to visit a clinic with expedited service using the ZipTicket® boarding pass. Based in Minnesota, Zipnosis has more than seven years' experience and data to help our partners rapidly launch and scale a market-leading virtual care solution. For more information, visit www.zipnosis.com.