The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) has chosen Peter Yellowlees, professor of psychiatry at UC Davis, to be president-elect of the association’s board of directors. The ATA is a world leader in resources and advocacy for advanced remote medical technologies. Yellowlees was serving as vice president of the organization when he was selected during the association’s annual conference earlier this month in Minnesota.
In addition to his busy clinical practice at UC Davis, Yellowlees is the vice chair for faculty development in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. He is known for a number of research interests, including the development and validation of asynchronous (not real-time) telepsychiatry, automated translation and clinical interpreting systems, as well as assessment and treatment protocols for improving physician health and wellness. He also is a strong advocate for using telemedicine connections for distance education delivery to health professionals.
Yellowlees served as program chair of the ATA’s 21st annual conference, which reflected the international importance of telehealth by attracting more than 5,000 attendees from about 40 countries. In opening remarks to the delegates, Yellowlees discussed the value of telemedicine and the importance of developing high-quality data with the aim of replacing rather than adding clinical services. He noted the association encourages collaboration and partnerships among product and service providers, health care institutions, clinicians, patients, technologists and academics, all with an aim toward demonstrating telemedicine’s clinical and economic effectiveness and value.
“I do hope to be able to continue the inclusive and collaborative work of this excellent organization, and ultimately improve the way we provide care for our patients,” said Yellowlees, after his election. “Telemedicine currently provides an amazing range of health care benefits and is a core component of all future-looking health systems. It takes teamwork to develop new pathways and enhance existing ones, which is why it is I’m so thrilled to be part of the leadership for the coming year.”
Yellowlees directs a research team in the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry that focuses on the use of telemedicine in mental health. Several members of his team, Steven Chan, Michelle Parish and Shang Wei, presented three papers at the ATA conference on asynchronous telepsychiatry and the use and development of automated translation systems. The papers were well received and like many other presentations were rapidly shared via Twitter and other social media platforms, something Yellowlees sees as an ideal complement to improving health care in the digital age.
“With broadband connectivity reaching more and more people, we’re no longer constrained by distance or time factors,” said Yellowlees. “In the same way telemedicine connects physicians with patients, social media can quickly connect people with new health information and potentially helpful resources. Our mission is all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time. A computer monitor, as well as the tablet or smartphone screen, can be, in many cases, more effective than in-person encounters or presentations.”