AMA Adopts Health IT-Related Policies at Annual Meeting

June 12, 2014 in News

During its annual meeting, the American Medical Association adopted several health IT-related policies and approved a list of guiding principles to help ensure appropriate coverage and payment of telehealth services, Computerworld reports (Mearian, Computerworld, 6/11).

AMA Telehealth Policy

AMA’s list of principles is designed to guide providers as they begin to adopt telehealth.

  • The list groups telehealth technologies into three general categories:
  • Real-time, interactive health care services through an online portal;
  • Remote monitoring via devices (Wicklund, Healthcare IT News, 6/12); and
  • Store-and-forward practices, such as through electronic health records, email and other communications technology.

The guidelines suggest that before providing a telehealth service, a physician should:

  • Have a “face-to-face” patient visit, which could include real-time audio and video technology; and
  • Inform the patient of cost-sharing responsibilities and limitations in prescribed medications (Computerworld, 6/11).

The guidelines also highlight the inconsistencies in coverage for such services, noting that the discrepancies are hindering telehealth adoption nationwide (Healthcare IT News, 6/12).

According to an AMA release, the new AMA policy also aims to:

  • Promote further research to develop a stronger evidence base for telehealth;
  • Support additional Medicare pilot programs that aim to expand telehealth coverage; and
  • Encourage doctors — prior to providing telehealth services — to verify that their medical liability insurance policy covers such services, and specifically telehealth services provided across state lines (AMA release [1], 6/11).  

AMA President Robert Wah said, “Telemedicine can strengthen the patient-physician relationship and improve access to receive care remotely, as medically appropriate, including treatment for chronic conditions, which are proven ways to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs” (Computerworld, 6/11).

Additional Health IT Policies

Meanwhile, AMA also adopted policies related to electronic data exchange at its meeting.

The policies include:

  • Encouraging all pharmacies — including federally run ones — to accept electronic prescriptions;
  • Working with the federal government to address “data lock-in,” in which data stored in one EHR cannot be easily transmitted, to enhance transparency and establish a clear data exchange process; and
  • Promote improvements in EHR usability (AMA release [2], 6/11).

Further, AMA passed a resolution that aims to prevent identity theft by asking the Internal Revenue Service and CMS to prohibit the use of Social Security numbers by:

  • Health vendors;
  • Insurers; and
  • State agencies besides those with taxing authority or non-financial business needs (Goedert, Health Data Management, 6/12).
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