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Johnson Aims to Make Telehealth an Imperative at ATA19 Conference

American Telemedicine Association CEO Ann Mond Johnson wants to expand the conversation - and the audience - and the organization's upcoming annual conference and exhibition.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- Telehealth and telemedicine advocates have been struggling for years to boost adoption of connected care technologies among healthcare providers. Now Ann Mond Johnson is pushing forward with her strategy: Invite everybody to the party.

“What we’re trying to do is broaden the conversation,” says the CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, now into her second year at the helm of the national organization. “This isn’t just about synchronous communication any more.”

With the ATA’s annual conference and exhibition – this year in New Orleans – just one month away, Johnson is looking to bring the spotlight back onto the organization, which has struggled for the past few years to establish an identity. She has an aggressive agenda lined up for the three-day conference, aimed at tackling newsworthy topics like provider burnout and giving presenters and attendees the opportunity to share their telehealth successes.

Reimagining care isn’t an empty phrase to her. She says she’s taken notice of the lagging adoption statistics and realizes the conversation has to change.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there, but it’s not being used necessarily,” she says. “We want to accelerate adoption and engagement, so let’s start looking at things differently than we have in the past. Let’s be very focused on changing the story arc.”

That includes embracing the shift from fee-for-service to value-based service, and understanding the value and possibilities of consumer-facing healthcare. They’re concepts that the telehealth market has touched up and dabbled with but not yet embraced.

Johnson’s goal is to push telemedicine and telehealth – and the ATA’s role in advocating for those technologies – to the forefront. It’s not enough any more to see connected health as a new form of healthcare or a new method of delivering it.

“We want everyone to believe that, ultimately, it’s a social injustice if telehealth is not available,” she says.

In other words, she says, make it personal.

ATA19 begins on Sunday, April 14, with a morning of pre-conference workshops, followed by the opening plenary at 12:30 p.m. The conference runs through Tuesday, April 16, with a closing plenary scheduled for 2:45-3:30 p.m.

Aside from tracks dedicated to the use of telehealth to combat provider burnout and the future of connected care technologies, Johnson is shaking things up a little bit with education sessions and an exhibit hall that encourage interaction.

“Nobody wants to see a bunch of slides and talking heads,” she says.

The idea, Johnson says, is to break down the at-arm’s-length barrier that often plagues events, and that prompts attendees to feel as if they’re not a part of the action.

“We want everybody to help us focus on reimagining care,” she says.

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