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ATA Meeting Showcases Telehealth's Changing Landscape

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   May 03, 2024

While disruptors are having a hard time figuring out healthcare, health systems and hospitals are embracing telehealth as a standard of care

As the American Telemedicine Association gathers next week for its annual conference, attendees will find plenty to discuss.

Telehealth had its moment in the spotlight with the pandemic, when both the healthcare industry and consumers found they couldn't live without it. While adoption dropped with the return to in-person care, the general consensus is that telehealth is now a part of the care spectrum. The best evidence of this may be the announcement that both the Joint Commission and the National Committee for Quality Assurance are developing new accreditation standards for virtual care.

That said, telehealth advocates are still waiting for policy and regulations to catch up. Many states have upgraded their telehealth guidelines in the wake of the pandemic, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made some of its pandemic-era telehealth waivers permanent while extending others to the end of this year. Several bills before Congress aim to make those waivers permanent, but there's no guarantee that any action will be taken on those bills.

Finally, the direct-to-consumer and primary care telehealth marketplace is seeing some upheaval. Walmart's recent announcement that it is shuttering its in-store clinics as well as its telehealth program wasn't entirely unexpected—UnitedHealth is shutting down Optum Virtual Care, CVS Health isn't seeing any growth, and both Amwell and Teladoc have been encountering problems as well. Those companies are finding that telehealth for primary care isn't profitable, while health systems are finding those telehealth services are still in demand, and necessary.

At the ViVE 2024 conference earlier this year in Los Angeles, Sheeza Hussein, Steady MD's chief growth officer, noted that the direct-to-consumer telehealth industry is awash with small companies (and providers) offering virtual care for specific services, like pediatric care, sexual health, and weight loss. This, along with functional medicine, or testing and diagnostic services for chronic care, and pharma companies are driving the growth in DTC telehealth.

These issues and more will dominate the discussion at ATA's Nexus event next week. For a further look at what to expect, listen to this podcast with Nate Lacktman, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm, chair of its national Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team, and a member of the ATA's Board of Directors.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


The American Telemedicine Association's annual meeting, Nexus 2024, will take place next week in Phoenix.

Attendees will likely be discussing the upheaval in the DTC telehealth space, highlighted by Walmart's decision to shutter its virtual care service and the struggles of telehealth giants Teladoc and Amwell.

Telehealth adoption, meanwhile, is holding steady, as health systems and hospitals see the value of a virtual care strategy.

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