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American Telemedicine Association Announces CEO’s Departure

Jonathan Linkous is leaving the nation's largest telemedicine and telehealth advocacy group after 24 years at the helm.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Jonathan Linkous is stepping down after 24 years as the leader of the nation’s largest telehealth and telemedicine advocacy group.

The American Telemedicine Association announced Linkous’ departure as CEO in a brief press release dated Aug. 7.

“Jon was integral in the formation of the ATA and the telehealth industry,” Peter Yellowlees, MD, MBBS, the ATA’s current board president, said in the release. “We thank Jon for his many years of service and his significant contributions to ATA and the industry he helped create.”

Dr. Sabrina Smith, the ATA’s current Chief Operating Officer, will become Interim CEO while the ATA looks for a new CEO.

Linkous had been overseeing what the ATA is calling a five-year shift in the organization’s direction, moving from one that highlights new technology and pilot projects to one that focuses on helping healthcare providers integrate and use telehealth and telemedicine.

“It’s a pretty significant change,” Linkous told shortly before the ATA’s newly named Telehealth 2.0 conference and exhibition in Orlando this past April. With the “acceleration of the industry, there’s a need for a more solutions-based environment.”

“We’re at a point where we need to de-emphasize academics and focus on providing a toolkit,” he added.

The ATA’s annual fall summit has also undergone a make-over. Now called the EDGE, its focus is on teaming up attendees with “top experts in robust, interactive knowledge-sharing sessions to identify value-based solutions, gain key insights on payer perspectives, and discover new ways of thinking about old problems in the telemedicine industry.”

“Now is the time to accelerate the advancement of telemedicine as the new frontier of delivering care,” Linkous said in announcing EDGE 2017, scheduled to take place Oct. 3-4 in Washington D.C. “Our aim is to empower the mavericks in our industry to create next-generation strategies, policies, and regulations to take healthcare to the next level.” 

The ATA has been moving in this direction for a few years, beginning with the development in 2015 of annual report cards on each state’s physician practice standards and licensure efforts and telemedicine coverage and reimbursement policies. Last year the organization added a report card on each state’s coverage of telemental health.

Two years ago, the ATA launched an accreditation program for telemedicine providers with the goal of giving the industry its own seal of approval and reassuring payers that the service meets relevant standards and regulations. Earlier this year the organization announced a partnership with the ClearHealth Quality Institute (CHQI) to develop national telemedicine accreditation standards.

Under the partnership, the ATA's Accreditation Program for Online Patient Consultations will be repositioned as the Telemedicine Accreditation Program (TA Program) and will be managed entirely by CHQI.

Earlier this year, the organization unveiled practice guidelines for telestroke and child and adolescent telemental health, two of the fastest growing segments of the telehealth/telemedicine field.

They’re expected to be the first two of many guidelines that, Linkous said, “advance the science of and growing need for telemedicine and help ensure uniform and effective quality of services for patients in need of these health-enhancing, life-saving services.”

“With more than 10,000 members and 450 health system and industry partners, the largest international conference and trade show, and the most expansive educational telemedicine program in the world, the ATA is the international leader in telemedicine,” Yellowlees said in the press release. “Jon was instrumental in building this organization and we are indebted to him for building a strong foundation for future growth.”

Jonathan Linkous


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