The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio (AMCNO) is collaborating with the Physicians Foundation (PF) and the American Medical Association (AMA), to support physicians interested in establishing or sustaining telehealth services, and measuring the impact in their practices. The AMCNO will select 5-8 practices interested in continuing to leverage telehealth to improve the patient experience, and provide access for patients to their physicians via this mode of care delivery for continuity of care. We will serve as the liaison between the selected practices and our partners, to survey and report progress. The collaborative will provide training through virtual events as well as opportunities to network and learn from peers.

If you are interested in participating in The Telehealth Initiative, please contact AMCNO Communications Director Tara Camera at [email protected]. 

What is the Telehealth Initiative?

In 2020, the Foundation launched a collaboration with the American Medical Association called The Telehealth Initiative (TTI). TTI was designed to bolster implementation support at the state-level by equipping state medical associations with telehealth programming that could build on existing offerings. Each state medical association recruited a cohort of practices committed to participating in the educational sessions and data collection efforts hosted by the AMA over the course of the year. Through TTI, the AMA worked with participating state medical associations to develop relevant educational content, resources, measurement tools, and evaluation support to help practices with telehealth implementation.

This next phase of the initiative will continue to fuel state medical associations with the national network and support needed to establish and maintain strong relationships with physicians, practices, and health systems interested in implementing, optimizing or sustaining telehealth. In addition to providing ongoing support, this year’s program will emphasize the importance of realizing the true value of virtual care. State medical associations with have access to the AMA Return on Health framework (below) to support measuring the value of virtual care in practices across their state.

Benefits of participation

Telehealth has the potential to enhance quality of care, reduce costs, increase access, and, with regulatory and payer support, help sustain physician practice.  The evolution of telehealth from its nascent expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on many facets of measurement and experience. The opportunity to publish research, opinions, and establish a credible experience data base is limited and often not easily placed in widely read and recognized print and on-line journals.

The Telehealth Initiative was designed to support physicians and practices in leveraging telehealth in their environments (including implementing, optimizing, sustaining, and measuring value). After the explosion in use during the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of telehealth policy, coverage, and payment is uncertain despite its widespread adoption and use over the last year and a half. Additionally, there are still best practices to disseminate and challenges/barriers to identify to continue to optimize and sustain telehealth across the industry. By joining the second cohort of practices as part of the Telehealth Initiative, you will:

  1. Have access to curated content, programming, and events to support practices and physicians This is free of charge and available nationwide.
  2. Have opportunities to join Telehealth Initiative exclusive opportunities to engage in a collaborative “community of practice,” hear from telehealth experts across various topics including policy and payment, and drive programming development based on your needs and areas of interest.
  3. Support the aggregation of telehealth best practices and learnings for dissemination across the industry and the development of new resources and tools for the industry.
  4. Contribute to the data needs that can help drive the future of telehealth policy, coverage, and payment to ensure telehealth works for physicians, care teams, and patients now and in a post-pandemic healthcare delivery system. This will support advocacy efforts at both the national, state, and local level.

How to engage

Telehealth Immersion Program

The Telehealth Immersion Program provides educational resources and events covering the telehealth landscape and explores several topics in-depth, including clinical instruction and integration with other technologies. All of these sessions are recorded and available for those unable to attend live and come in various formats including webinars, peer-to-peer learning sessions, mini-bootcamps, and online discussions. The AMA will provide and coordinate sessions with content input from the medical associations and practices.

Measuring the value of telehealth using the AMA Return on Health framework

Every virtual patient encounter with a physician generates data. The primary outcomes around outcomes, costs, and experience are at the core, but there are other important “points of light” illuminated that can be relevant to understanding and improving population health. The overlap with the social context (SDOH), geography, economic impacts (workforce and productivity), technology development, and other indirect outcomes can be used to improve care for the patient and the population. The source of that data can be objective, from EMR’s, payers, and public health statistics, as well as subjective from the patient, caregiver/family, and health care team/setting.

The future of telehealth and virtual care will depend on the demonstration of value, continuing quality improvements, the identification of clinical appropriateness, program integrity, and the innovation that enhances its effectiveness for the patient and the population. The aggregation of data showing the value of telehealth from across the country will be used to help define its role in healthcare and continuously evaluate and improve care delivery via telehealth.

Practices will leverage the AMA’s Return on Health framework to help identify measures to track related to their use of telehealth. This data will be collected at the start of the program and the end of the program. There will be a few ways to participate and contribute data:

  1. In collaboration with the association lead and the AMA, practices/physicians will submit data manually and develop a case study similar to those within the Return on Health report.
  2. Participating physicians can engage in a PI CME quality improvement activity set up by their state/local association focused on measuring the value of telehealth in their environments. Data will be submitted through the formal activity platform and the intervention will be using the Return on Health framework to track impact of a telehealth program in practice.

The time commitment will vary based on existing access to data, internal practice support and resources, and the number of measures that the practice chooses to track as part of their project. Between the Telehealth Immersion Program and the Return on Health project, we estimate approximately 5-8 hours per month at most. The time may be more significant on the front and back end of the program, which runs from January through December 2022. Additionally, that does not include time it will take to implement and/or optimize the practice telehealth program as needed by the practice in collaboration with practice staff and association resources.

Telehealth Webinar Videos and Recordings

View the latest webinar videos and recordings on the AMA's Telehealth Immersion Program webpage for helpful information on a variety of telehealth topics.

Follow this checklist to brighten your telehealth presence | American Medical Association (