• Questions About Telehealth? Get Answers in Upcoming Webinar

    Dec. 4 Event Highlights New AAFP Telehealth Toolkit

    November 25, 2020, 9:20 am News Staff -- Before COVID-19, only 13% of AAFP members had provided virtual patient visits. By May 2020, 94% were doing so regularly. Telehealth has the potential to transform the health care experience, particularly for elderly patients, those with chronic conditions and people in remote areas, and it has become increasingly clear that patients will demand continued access to telehealth even after the pandemic recedes.

    elderly patient speaking with younger physician via telemedicine

    Whether you’re in a solo or small practice trying to grow a sustainable telehealth operation, or you’ve been tasked with leading telehealth efforts in your large practice, an upcoming AAFP webinar can give you the information you need to make the right decisions for your practice and patients.

    The webinar is supported, in part, by a grant from Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc.

    “How and Why to Grow Telehealth In Your Practice,” which will air from 4-5 p.m. EST on Dec. 4, promises to give participants insight into the current state of telehealth use in family medicine ― including through on-the-ground narratives shared by FP colleagues ― as well as a glimpse of the likely road forward for telehealth in primary care.

    The webinar will also feature a new, free resource the AAFP developed in partnership with webinar host Manatt Health, an interdisciplinary health policy and business strategy advisory division of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, one of the nation’s preeminent health care law and consulting firms. 

    Story Highlights

    That resource, A Toolkit for Building and Growing a Sustainable Telehealth Program in Your Practice, covers various topics related to starting, maintaining or expanding telehealth in practice, such as

    • how to ensure appropriate payment for telehealth services,
    • what family medicine practices moving to build telehealth sustainability should consider, and
    • what types of telehealth scenarios family physicians are likely to see in their practices.

    Family physicians and other interested stakeholders are invited to register now for the live webinar, which will be recorded and available for AAFP members-only viewing after the live event. Keep an eye on the Academy’s COVID-19 Telehealth webpage for that link.

    AAFP Vice President and Chief Medical Informatics Officer Steven Waldren, M.D., M.S., will lead the discussion. He is a nationally recognized expert in health IT, with more than 15 years of experience in this area. Before joining the Academy, Waldren was a National Library of Medicine Medical Informatics Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri, Columbia, where he earned a master’s degree in medical informatics. He has held key positions in leading national health IT organizations such as the National Quality Forum and Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.

    In 2018, Waldren was tapped to spearhead a far-ranging informatics project for the AAFP that initially focused on relieving EHR burdens for family physicians and has since expanded to explore how cutting-edge technologies can be harnessed and fine-tuned to benefit primary care medical practice. Known as the Innovation Laboratory, this effort involves partnering with industry to drive innovation using the latest proven technologies ― cloud, artificial intelligence/machine learning, voice and mobile technologies ― to optimize the family medicine experience.

    Waldren will be joined during the webinar by three other family physicians with diverse backgrounds in health IT, who will outline their experiences using telehealth in their respective practices:

    • Stephen North, M.D., M.P.H., of Spruce Pine, N.C., helped found and is medical director of Health-e-Schools, a school-based telemedicine program that provides access to acute care, chronic disease management and adolescent medicine services for more than 55,000 students in school districts across North Carolina. He also is the Rural Telehealth Research Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Sheps Center for Health Services Research, a member of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Telehealth Research Center, and has served on the National Quality Forum’s Telehealth Committee. As medical director for Mission Virtual Care from 2014-2019, North worked to integrate inpatient and outpatient care, virtual visits, and remote home monitoring into Mission Health, North Carolina’s sixth largest health system.
    • Karen Smith, M.D., of Raeford, N.C., launched her private practice in 2004, swiftly building it into one of the first rural, independent family medicine practices to invest in technology such as interactive patient portals and kiosk-based check-ins. She served on the North Carolina Medical Society’s Health Information Exchange Task Force and has been a leader in advocating for a viable statewide HIE. Having earned a national reputation as an early adopter of and expert in health IT, Smith has testified on Capitol Hill regarding the challenges and benefits of using these technologies and was named a member of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Meaningful Use Vanguard Program.
    • Gail Guerrero-Tucker, M.D., M.P.H., of Thatcher, Ariz., is a managing partner of her rural private practice, which offers full-spectrum family medicine services, including operative obstetrics. She is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson ― teaching students and residents about rural family medicine practice ― and immediate past president of the Arizona AFP. Like many other physicians across the country, Guerrero-Tucker’s first foray into telehealth occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she and her practice colleagues sought to minimize patients’ exposure risk while maintaining care continuity.

    “I am excited that our webinar has both national experts in the field as well as innovative family physicians from the front lines,” Waldren noted.

    In addition, Jared Augenstein and Edith Coakley Stowe, both directors for Manatt Health, will join the four physicians during the webinar to highlight the AAFP’s new Telehealth Toolkit and share their own experiences.

    The webinar comes at a critical time for the U.S. health care system, as the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked widespread technological innovation and investment that, according to Waldren, can’t realistically be walked back.

    “All evidence points us to a future in family medicine which has virtual care as an important component of delivering care,” he said. “Members need to be thinking how they will incorporate telehealth in their practice as we emerge from this current pandemic.

    “I am confident that health care will not be going back to pre-pandemic levels of low telehealth.”

    Register today for the webinar, and be sure to mark your calendar for the Dec. 4 event.