Healthcare’s Biggest Issues to Be Tackled at ATA Conference

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TAMPA, FL — Get ready to sample the future of healthcare.

That’s the message being delivered to an anticipated 4,000 attendees of the American Telemedicine Association’s 16th Annual International Meeting and Exposition, being held May 1-3 in Tampa.

ATA 2011 kicks off with a number of pre-conference meetings and workshops on Saturday and early Sunday, then officially opens at 3 p.m. Sunday with the welcome reception, opening plenary and opening reception in the Exhibit Hall.

Dale Alverson, MD, the ATA’s president, says telemedicine will play a prominent role in the nation’s healthcare debate, through the development of accountable care organizations and the patient-centered medical home. He expects the conference to tackle a number of issues affecting this fast-growing segment  of healthcare, including the integration of mobile devices and monitoring solutions, international collaborations and opportunities, sustainability and reimbursement, and the blending of current health information technology solutions like electronic health records and health information exchanges with telemedicine.

“Telemedicine is becoming a standard of care and should be fully integrated into a transformed healthcare system,” said Alverson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico and medical director of the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

Pre-conference events begin Saturday with “Telemedicine 101: Building Your Telehealth Program,” a seven-hour course coordinated by the University of California Davis Health System, and a meeting of the Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), an office of the headquarters of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.

Sunday’s pre-conference sessions include professional development courses and the International Telemedicine Forum, which runs from 1-3 p.m. and includes case studies on telemedicine projects in Australia, Brazil, China and India. The signing ceremony for the ATA’s new MoU members – from Pakistan, India, Armenia, the UK and Nepal – will take place from 2:40-3 p.m., and will be followed by a reception ceremony with the ATA International Special Interest Group (SIG) and other ATA member groups from 3-4 p.m.

Following a welcome reception from 3-4 p.m. Sunday, the opening plenary, scheduled for 4 p.m., features Martin Cooper, a veteran Motorola executive who launched and serves as CEO of GreatCall Wireless and ArrayComm and has been credited with creating the first portable cell phone in 1973 and leading the 10-year process to bring it to market. Joining him will be David Pogue, an Emmy Award-winning CBS News technology correspondent and columnist for the New York Times who is also one of the world’s best-selling how-to authors.

“Dr. Cooper and David Pogue will provide a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges of consumer‐based healthcare cell phone applications,” said Jonathan Linkous, the ATA’s CEO. “The addition of these two keynote speakers completes an already impressive conference program of over 450 presentations by the leading experts in telehealth.”

The opening plenary will be followed by an opening reception from 5:15-6:30 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall, which will house more than 250 vendors in a 200,000-square-foot hall – a 16 percent increase in vendors and 68 percent increase in floor space singe the 2009 conference in Las Vegas.

ATA’s educational program, which runs Monday through Tuesday, is broken up into eight topics – clinical services; emergency and disaster response; mobile health; operations, business and finance; public policy; remote monitoring; technology and telecommunications; and telemental health. All told, the conference will feature 260 presentations.

There are also eight scheduled industry executive roundtables taking place Monday and Tuesday and a Poster reception from 5:15-6:30 p.m. Monday in the Exhibit Hall.

ATA 2011 will conclude on Tuesday with a full day of activities, including SIG forums, a breakfast plenary and the closing networking event from 5:15-9 p.m. The breakfast plenary, from 8:30-10 a.m., will feature “three amazing, yet deeply personal stories about how telemedicine changed the lives of someone … shared live by the healthcare provider, the patient and the family whose life was saved.”

The winners of the 2011 ATA Annual Awards will also be honored during Sunday’s opening session.

“Telemedicine represents the future of quality healthcare and our award winners are the people and companies who have helped make this future possible,” said Alverson. “Their dedication, hard work and innovations in this area of remote healthcare technology have saved and improved countless patients’ lives.”

The award winners are:

•    ATA President’s Award for the Advancement of Telemedicine – Individual (supported by The Global Telemedicine Group) – Dena Puskin, ScD, senior advisor for health information technology and telehealth policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md.

•    ATA President’s Award for the Advancement of Telemedicine – Institutional (supported by AMD Global Telemedicine) – The University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock, Ark.

•    ATA President’s Award for the Advancement of Telemedicine – Innovation (supported by InTouch Health) – Michael D. Abramoff, MD, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Iowa Health Care in Iowa City, and Hubble Telemedical of Nashville, Tenn., for their innovations in the automated detection of diabetic retinopathy.

•    ATA Industry Council Award (supported by ViTel Net) – Alice Borrelli, director of global health and workforce policy for the Intel Corporation.

•    Special Interest Group & Chapter Achievement Award (supported by AT&T) – The ATA Telehealth Nursing Special Interest Group.

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