“The single fastest growing medical device we have in this country is probably the iPhone,” Jon Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association told Mobihealthnews. “I have discussions about the iPhone every single day.”
Linkous also explained how the telemedicine industry has grown from “white labeled” (literally) corporate video conferencing solutions to the rapidly growing wireless health market we know today. The interview touched on wireless health’s place in the national healthcare reform discussions, physicians’ fear of telemedicine, generational shifts and the types of start-ups knocking on ATA’s door. Read on below for more from the interview with Jon Linkous, CEO of the ATA.
(AND: If you want to hear more from Linkous and other wireless health thought leaders, join us at the Everywhere Healthcare event at CTIA Wireless & IT in San Diego this October.)
Mobihealthnews: What is the American Telemedicine Association (ATA)?
Linkous: The ATA was created in 1993 by a group of doctors who were using video conferencing links between larger health centers and rural clinics. Both the field of telemedicine and the ATA has taken off from there. Today, we have a broad and eclectic membership so we like to say we are part trade association and part professional association. That means we have clinicians, physicians, nurses as well as hospitals, institutions, government organizations, corporations, providers. That includes any one from Verizon, Intel, UnitedHealth Group to Qualcomm plus a lot of medical device groups, too. It’s intentionally broad-focused — both our membership and interests. We do a lot of education work, which includes our annual conference, advocacy in Washington and elsewhere. We also have special interest groups, about 15 different member groups in various areas that provide networking, education and we are starting to create practice guidelines related to healthcare.
Telemedicine includes a number of different enabling technologies, including landline telephony, broadband wireline, wireless networking and others. Can you briefly take us through how those technologies have evolved since ATA’s founding, and how that has changed the industry?
It’s been an amazing trip. When we started out most of telemedicine was a large video conferencing box that was primarily used for corporate video conferencing that [telemedicine groups] would paint white, literally, they’d paint it white and put a red cross on it and call it medical equipment. It was large, cumbersome, very expensive and required broadband hookups, which were also not cheap. The [connectivity requirements back then were] multiple T1 lines or ISDN just to get this to work. Because of that, the industry was largely government grant focused and there were some other applications, but not too many. From there these systems got smaller and more efficient but they were still focused on video conferencing. Keep reading>>