President's Update

December Update

Dear Members,

Welcome to my December update.

We are now very much into the holiday season, and I wish all ATA members and their immediate and extended families at home and work a very happy holiday, with lots of rest and recharging of your emotional and physical batteries as we all prepare for yet another outstanding year. Around this time of year, I tend to recall how lucky we who work in the healthcare and associated industries are as a group to have such fortunate lives and meaningful work. It is an honor for me to be a part of this meaningful profession and, especially, to work with all ATA members and to have developed such friendships and professional relationships with so many extraordinary people who are focused on change and innovation for the betterment of society. And, it is a privilege to have connections with so many members in my role as your President this year. Thank you indeed for your commitment to, and level of involvement in the ATA. And all the best to you and yours this holiday season.

I can’t wait to see what new developments 2018 brings to telemedicine. I am especially interested in how the health system will continue changing under the influence of partnerships between traditional health providers and big box stores. The recent announcements of telemedicine-enabled partnerships between Walgreens and New-York Presbyterian and CVS and the Cleveland Clinic are good examples of this. The potential merger of Aetna and CVS, which will increase the CVS market share and likely lead to more promotion and use of its in-store “minute clinics,” is another example of what some have begun calling a new “primary care front door” for America. This trend is likely to accelerate and will involve more ATA members working with a new set of clinical and business partners.

Reminder: ATA Member Satisfaction Survey
ATA’s leadership, staff, and members have been working on a number of ongoing projects and seek your continued support and involvement. You should have all received a survey by email yesterday. This is very important, and we encourage you to complete it. It took me less than 10 minutes, and is a good way of providing ATA feedback about what you would like your continuing relationship with the association to be, and what activities and programs you value. The Board is examining our whole membership engagement strategy, and our pricing models, to try to ensure that the ATA gives the maximum value to all members, individual and corporate. So please do contribute, and if you have other ideas send them directly to me, Andrew Watson or to Sabrina Smith.

Board Updates: New ATA Policy Committee, Value Proposition Initiative, and Budget Adjustments
The ATA Board held it’s last meeting for the calendar year by teleconference on December 6th. In a packed 2-hour agenda, the Board agreed to create an ATA Policy Committee to be chaired by Board Member Bart Demaerschalk, MD. I greatly appreciate Bart working closely with ATA staff, especially Sabrina Smith, Gary Capistrant and Latoya Thomas as well as a number of members, to create a scope and organizational plan for this committee, which the Board hopes will be able to provide the ATA a stronger and more strategic policy base, and set of views and positions, resulting in a stronger telemedicine voice going forward.

Other issues on the Board’s agenda included a review of the Value Proposition Initiative, and several proposed studies and projects to further delineate the economic and consumer-based value of telemedicine. We believe these projects will be of great help to our members, leading the ATA to offer better engagement and value to all.

Finally, much of the discussion concerned the ATA budget going forward. The staff have reorganized this process entirely and, with the help of the finance committee, chaired by Board member Alexis Gilroy, JD, have made our whole financial process much more transparent and easy to understand. Congratulations to all on this excellent work.

ATA18: Working Together to Change the Future of Modern Healthcare
We now look forward to ATA18 in Chicago, April 29 – May 1st. The Chicago theme is “Working Together to Design the Future of Modern Healthcare,” and we believe this will be our largest ever conference with capacity for over 6,000 attendees. Don’t forget to put these dates in your schedule. There are already “save the date” postcards going out and a website up and available where you can register and find out about several of the Keynote Speakers, who have already been announced. These include Robert Wachter MD, Professor and Chair of Medicine at UCSF, and the best-selling author of “The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age,” Lisa Bielamowicz MD, Chief Medical Officer at the Advisory Board Company, and Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP. This is a really exciting range of speakers, all of whom are interested in the future of medicine and how technology can both change and improve our health system. I am looking forward to hearing them and think they will be excellent lead speakers for our annual conference.

The Education Committee, chaired by ATA Vice President Kristi Henderson, has finished reviewing the largest number of submissions we have ever had, and the detailed program will be announced soon. I am confident this is going to be a wonderful conference, and look forward to meeting many of you in Chicago, a real destination city for those of you who wish to combine the conference with a few days of holiday activities. Do remember, also, to put Edge 2018, in Austin on Sept 26th to 28th in your schedules. where the primary focus will be on innovation and technology drivers in telemedicine.

ATA CEO Search in Progress
Finally, the ATA CEO search committee has started interviewing a range of really excellent candidates for this important position and in the meantime Sabrina Smith continues her outstanding job as Interim CEO. I would like to remind you all that nominations for next year’s vacant Board positions will open mid-December, and should be sent either to Dr. John Glaser, who chairs the Board nominating committee, or to myself.

Do please continue to contact me, Sabrina Smith, any ATA staff, and any Board members or other ATA leaders with any questions or concerns. It is always good to hear from you. And a very happy holiday season to you all from the ATA.

My best wishes to all.


Dr. Peter Yellowlees, MBBS
American Telemedicine Association