It is hard to believe, but two years have flown by and I am writing my final Chair Letter. While it has been 7 years since Neal Sikka, Bob Galli, and I were asked to serve as Special Officers to restart the Section and each of us has now served as Section Chair, it seems like last week when we had our first meeting at the ACEP SA in San Francisco in 2011. Here are a few updates on what has been happening since our last newsletter.
I am pleased to report that the paper for the section grant has been completed. It was a massive undertaking reviewing over 4 decades of telemedicine related papers in the English literature. The long paper distills all of the measurables into bite sized sections for different applications of telemedicine. I would like to recognize each of the authors as we all worked tirelessly to get this project completed:
- Frank Guyette
- Neal Sikka
- Aditi Joshi
- Ed Shaheen
- Michael Baker
- Adam Ash
- Alex Chiu
- Dickson Cheung
- Hartmut Gross
The white paper should be posted on the website by the time this newsletter is published.
Simultaneously, we have been thinking about next projects to submit for another section grant. I have mentioned in the last letter about ideas for filling in metrics knowledge gaps we identified as we completed this last project. Another project is an educational one. A soon to be published study verified the void of telemedicine education in a small sample of American and Canadian medical schools. Most everyone agrees that that the learners of today will soon be practicing medicine using some form of telemedicine in their regular practice. Physician extenders will undoubtedly be assisted via telemedicine. Curricula need to be developed and tested. I’m sure there are many more terrific project ideas among Section members. This last project was enlightening, fun, and rewarding as we built some wonderful inter-institutional comradery via our Section network.
As I pointed out, my two-year cycle is ending and our Section Operational Guidelines instruct us to cycle our officers. Ed Shaheen, Chair Elect, has described instructions elsewhere in the newsletter about running for an officer position. If you are hesitant or not quite ready, please know that we are always on the lookout for individuals who want to participate and be active. Speaking for the next Chair, even if are not in an officer position, we are happy to start teaching you, have you join into regular teleconferences, and participate or lead in special projects.
Section Name Change Proposal
As the afore mentioned white paper was being completed, we realized that the terms telemedicine and telehealth do not actually mean the same thing. Telemedicine is considered by most to mean provision of medical intervention when illness or injury is present. Telehealth includes telemedicine, but extends further to embrace prevention, health maintenance, follow-up, and screening. While the latter are not always the first idea which comes to mind when we say Emergency Medicine, the landscape of health care is changing and EM physicians are expanding their scope into practices such as employee health coverage and CHF patient virtual home visits to decrease readmissions. To that end, we felt that our Section name may be limiting and may discourage certain EM physicians who may be pioneering some of these unique applications from joining our Section. We believe that outsiders looking in will also see the broader expanse of our Section and be more likely to look for collaboration. There will be a vote held during the ACEP SA to change our name to ACEP Telehealth Section.
Ed Shaheen, the new Chair, has a number of exciting ideas to invigorate the Section. There are planned meetings with members of our Section as well as with interested members from other Sections to share ideas. Times and locations are to be announced. So watch your e-mails so you don't miss out.
Changing of the Guard
There was tremendous change and turnover at ACEP and many thanks go to the Section liaisons who have transitioned over the past two years – Dainsworth Chambers, Barbara Tomar, Ben Hirschman, Jill Openshaw, Brad Gruehn. We welcome our newest (and hopefully last for a long time) liaison, Jeffrey Davis, whose help has already been invaluable.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your Section Chair. Thank you to all of the Section officers who helped support me in this role. I know we are in excellent hands for the next two years.
Hartmut Gross, MD, FACEP
Professor of Emergency Medicine and Neurology
Department of Emergency Medicine
Augusta University Health