INTRODUCTION AND PROMISE OF TELEMEDICINE
Physicians have embraced innovation in health care delivery for decades and recognize that digital health, including high-quality telemedicine, holds great potential to improve patient access to care and care coordination. An expanding evidence base in many medical specialties is elucidating the clinical situations in which various telemedicine technologies can be deployed with high efficacy and safety for patient care, as well as highlighting scenarios in which these technologies or their uses have not met our expectations. This important evidence base is informing a growing body of clinical guidelines and position statements on best practices.
Physicians have been pioneers in the development and deployment of telemedicine technologies, as well as rigorous evaluation and publication of their outcomes. Although telehealth affects how care is delivered and how patients interact with physicians, the profession of medicine has recognized that the fundamental professional and ethical responsibilities to deliver high-quality, coordinated care are unchanged by these evolving technologies. Physicians have, therefore, engaged deeply to advance the development of evidence-based guidelines, ethical standards, licensure frameworks, legislative and regulatory patient protections, insurance coverage, physician education opportunities, and reliable digital tools to advance the use of appropriate telemedicine to provide quality care for our patients.
AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION TELEMEDICINE POLICY
The American Medical Association's (AMA's) physician and medical student members have played a central role in the development of medicine in the United States since 1847. 1 Scientific advancement, standards for medical education, launching a program of medical ethics, and improved public health were the goals of the AMA's founders and remain central to the AMA's focus today. 1,2 Through the process outlined later, the AMA plays a pivotal role in advancing best practices, processes, and policies for integrating telemedicine into medical practice.
Telemedicine constitutes the practice of medicine. Given the rapid rate of technological innovation, this area of medicine has the potential to accelerate transformations in medical care. However, telemedicine also has significant implications for altering established patterns and methods of patient care and associated policies that require informed and thoughtful engagement and leadership from the physician community and other health care stakeholders. The range of ethical and health policy considerations have been far-ranging and will continue to evolve through an established process within the AMA designed to accommodate advancements in medical practice.
The AMA's telemedicine initiatives and advocacy reflect the input and deliberation of the broadest group of physicians in the nation. The AMA House of Delegates (House or the HOD) is the principal policy-making body of the AMA. 3 The HOD represents the views and interests of physician delegates from more than 170 state medical associations and national medical specialty societies. 4 The HOD delegates meet twice per year at annual and interim meetings to deliberate and cast votes that establish policy on health, medical, professional and governance matters, as well as the principles within ...