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Who is ATA?

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership, works to fully integrate telemedicine into transformed healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.

Established in 1993 as a non-profit organization and headquartered in Washington, DC, membership in the Association is open to individuals, healthcare institutions, companies and other organizations with an interest in promoting the deployment of telemedicine throughout the world. ATA is governed by a Board of Directors, which is elected by the association's membership.

ATA is a mission-driven, non-profit organization. The driving force behind ATA’s activities is the safe and equitable deployment of telemedicine. While ATA shall strive to maintain a vibrant and growing organization, achieving the mission also requires freely sharing expertise and building coalitions with other organizations such as medical societies and professional and trade associations.

ATAwiki's purpose is to gather and share the vast community knowledge within our membership and other leaders in telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

Formally defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine is an encompassing term with many, many aspects to it. The ATAWiki is designed to give interested parties an overview of what these are and the current medical, political, and public health environments influencing telemedicine today.

Where can I see the benefits of ATA?

Telemedicine has been growing incredibly rapidly because it offers four fundamental benefits:

  • Improved Access – For over 40 years, telemedicine has been used to bring healthcare services to patients in distant locations. Not only does telemedicine improve access to patients but it also allows physicians and health facilities to expand their reach, beyond their own offices. Given the provider shortages throughout the world--in both rural and urban areas--telemedicine has a unique capacity to increase service to millions of new patients.
  • Cost Efficiencies – Reducing or containing the cost of healthcare is one of the most important reasons for funding and adopting telehealth technologies. Telemedicine has been shown to reduce the cost of healthcare and increase efficiency through better management of chronic diseases, shared health professional staffing, reduced travel times, and fewer or shorter hospital stays.
  • Improved Quality – Studies have consistently shown that the quality of healthcare services delivered via telemedicine are as good those given in traditional in-person consulations. In some specialties, particularly in mental health and ICU care, telemedicine delivers a superior product, with greater outcomes and patient satisfaction.
  • Patient Demand – Consumers want telemedicine. The greatest impact of telemedicine is on the patient, their family and their community. Using telemedicine technologies reduces travel time and related stresses for the patient. Over the past 15 years study after study has documented patient satisfaction and support for telemedical services. Such services offer patients the access to providers that might not be available otherwise, as well as medical services without the need to travel long distances

When did telemedicine start?

Telemedicine started over 40 years ago but it is rapidly being integrated into virtually all kinds of medical organizations, from hospitals to ICUs to private physicians’ offices to consumer homes. The time is now to embrace telemedicine!

How is telemedicine employed?

  • Networked programs link tertiary care hospitals and clinics with outlying clinics and community health centers in rural or suburban areas. The links may use dedicated high-speed lines or the Internet for telecommunication links between sites. ATA estimates the number of existing telemedicine networks in the United States at roughly 200 providing connectivity to over 3,000 sites.
  • Point-to-point connections using private high speed networks are used by hospitals and clinics that deliver services directly or outsource specialty services to independent medical service providers. Such outsourced services include radiology, stroke assessment, mental health and intensive care services.
  • Monitoring center links are used for cardiac, pulmonary or fetal monitoring, home care and related services that provide care to patients in the home. Often normal land-line or wireless connections are used to communicate directly between the patient and the center although some systems use the Internet.
  • Web-based e-health patient service sites provide direct consumer outreach and services over the Internet. Under telemedicine, these include those sites that provide direct patient care.

Using ATAwiki

A wiki is a free-form tool for putting, gathering and linking information. Its success and value depends on the collaboration of users.

While there is no traditional table of contents or hierarchical tree for information, the existing content of the wiki is summarized in the list of All Pages. Because of anonymous editors/bots vandalizing this wiki, we only allow ATA staff wiki editing permission. Please contact info@americantelemed.org if you have any updates or suggested revisions for the ATAWiki.

How to Get Started

  • Click on the "Current events" link on the left.
  • Search for a page on your major areas of knowledge. Is there something you can add or revise? Some news, facts, people to add?
  • Review the page for your state or country. Is there something you can add or revise?
  • Browse a page at random (just click the “random page” on the left). Is there something you can add or revise? Links needed to other ATAwiki pages?

Other ATA web resources