Peter Yellowlees, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences with an international reputation in telemedicine and the delivery of long distance health and education, has been named president of the American Telemedicine Association.
The nonprofit association is based in Washington, D.C. and has a membership network of more than 10,000 industry leaders and healthcare professionals and 450 companies.
As association president over the next year, Yellowlees will work to help transform healthcare by improving the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.
Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using internet, wireless, satellite and telephone media.
In his keynote presentation at the ATA annual conference in Orlando this week, he focused on the need for association members to promote and share examples of how telemedicine can transform healthcare. He also described the need for both providers and health systems to radically change the way they work to deliver better value care for patients.
“Many patients now receive better care through telemedicine, remote monitoring and other health technologies than they have received using traditional approaches,” said Yellowlees, who is also vice chair of faculty development for the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department.
“Telemedicine should no longer be an add-on for any health system,” he said. “Every physician, especially those consulting in primary care and outpatient environments, will in the future work in a hybrid way, seeing patients both in-person and online. Health systems that do not move in this direction rapidly will become increasingly less competitive.”
He added that patients want telehealth services and that ultimately it is the way to meet the triple aim and deliver high quality, more patient-centered care at a reduced per capita cost to larger populations of patients.
Yellowlees also urged clinicians to increasingly work on population health using multiple technologies, and for specialists like himself, to work in virtual teams to provide more indirect and supervisory care, expanding their reach and effectiveness. He described how telemedicine can also reduce the impact of climate change by preventing carbon loss through reduced travel and energy use, as well as by helping survivors of, or responders to, climate-related disasters such as floods and fires, and committed to setting up an ATA taskforce to focus on this issue.
Yellowlees completed his medical training in London and worked in Australia for 20 years before coming to UC Davis to continue his research in telemedicine and eHealth. He has received about $12 million in research grants in the areas of improving access to health and education services using information technologies. Some of his current projects focus on electronic record implementation, physician health, Internet email and video consultation services, the use of virtual reality for health education on the Internet, and store and forward telepsychiatry. For more information about Yellowlees, visit his online profile.