April 5, 2023

Letter from the Chair

Dear ACEP Emergency Telehealth Section Members:

As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” While our section has grown to over 300 ACEP members, we still are a relatively small group of thoughtful and committed citizens—working to design, implement, sustain, and evaluate telehealth in EM.

Thank you for your interest and work in telehealth and our specialty. And thank you in advance for learning about and sharing how telehealth can solve some of the issues we have faced for years in our specialty and healthcare system. As I write this, our Emergency Department (ED) is overwhelmed with capacity issues similar to your EDs. While it feels like an uphill battle, we will continue to innovate and learn how to provide acute, unscheduled care within and outside of the brick-and-mortar EDs—thoughtfully leveraging telehealth.

At Scientific Assembly this past October, we voted in the newest members to the section’s Executive Committee. Thank you also to our outgoing members and welcome to the newest Executive Committee members. You can read bio’s of these enthusiastic 2022-2024 Executive Committee members at the end of this newsletter.

As part of the goal to share lessons learned and generate discussion and innovation in telehealth, we have enjoyed great presentations from our monthly speaker series. Dr. Jarone Lee presenting in November about his work with tele-disasters, including asynchronous and text-based modalities. This talk reminds us that we can do impactful work without restricting our telehealth programs to only video. In December, Dr. Ethan Booker gave a wonderful talk on facilities fees and payment parity and how these concepts apply to telehealth reimbursement. He provided a summary of a topic that is critical to building financially sustainable programs—and a topic that likely will be up for discussion and changes at the national level. And Dr. Judd Hollander gave us his impression of how telehealth will change our EM practice. Soon you will be able to view the presentations from the links on our section website.

We look forward to seeing you at future monthly meetings (2nd Tuesday from 2-3p ET). In February, Dr. Liz Burner will present on her work in mHealth for low-resourced patients in EM. In March, we will have Dr. Bisan Salhi speak to the challenges and opportunities in creating telehealth programs with an eye toward equity.

On the legislation and policy front, I am excited with the recent news that the 2023 Omnibus Appropriations legislation extended the telehealth and Acute Hospital Care at Home waivers through 2024. For those performing work using either of these waivers, I encourage you to gather data demonstrating the value of telehealth so that we can help ACEP advocate for making these waivers permanent. You will hear me message this throughout this year as the data will be needed long before the end of 2024. Take that extra moment to make sure you are collecting the appropriate data when you are starting a program and look for opportunities to disseminate the data in publications and presentations.

Another potential way you can help push the needle forward for telehealth in EM is by providing short essays for future sections “Voices from the Field”. Please reach out to Dr. Satta Emeli, our section’s amazing Newsletter Editor, for more information. Our experiences and expertise should be shared in the community and inform other’s work.

Thank you for being a committed citizen on the journey to improve the specialty for both our patients and our fellow colleagues.

With gratitude,
Emily M. Hayden, MD, MHPE

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