What we learned about telemedicine and health care AI this year

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

A growing number of physicians are overcoming the barriers of time and space to deliver the right care to patients when they need it, without patients ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Read this collection of some of the best year’s best news stories that dig deeper into telemedicine and telehealth trends.

AMA Moving Medicine magazine

Each issue celebrates members making a difference in the exam room and in the medical profession as physicians, researchers, advocates and leaders.

And learn more about how augmented intelligence (AI)—often called artificial intelligence—is likely to transform health care and what should be done to ensure that those changes are ones that result in high-quality patient care. 

  1. Which medical specialties use telemedicine the most?

    1. A benchmark study by AMA researchers looked at who is using telemedicine, how they are using it and what obstacles remain to its implementation.
  2. 6 new digital health CPT codes that you should know about

    1. Six codes that are part of the 2020 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set will help physicians and others report a range of digital health services including electronic visits through secure patient portal messages. The new codes are spurred by digital health tools that are growing in popularity, such as patient portals.
  3. Telehealth is booming, but who are the power users?

    1. Growth in telehealth is being fueled by nonhospital-based health care providers, with urban areas outpacing rural regions although explosive expansion of services was seen in both sectors, according to a recent analysis of insurance claims data on telehealth trends.
  4. Interstate medical licensure by the numbers

    1. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact was designed to facilitate the growth of telemedicine while preserving state regulation of medical practice. It appears to be working. Find out more about the thousands of doctors who have so far been issued state medical licenses through the compact.
  5. Get ready for AI in health care: Here is the outlook

    1. Enthusiasm for embracing AI technology that can be applied to an array of areas in health care, such as evidence-based clinical decision support for diagnosis and treatment, is tempered with caution by memories of the disastrous rapid rollout of electronic health records.
  6. This ophthalmologist is doing health care AI the right way

    1. Physician-scientist and AMA member Michael Abramoff, MD, PhD, identified a problem and then painstakingly spent eight years building an AI solution to fix it. The Food and Drug Administration and a quartet of venture capital firms say he forged a path that others seeking to develop health care AI systems can follow.
  7. What to tell patients when AI is part of the team

    1. AI in health care can help manage and analyze data, make decisions, conduct conversations and likely to change physicians’ roles and everyday practices. It is key that physicians be able to adapt to changes in diagnostics, therapeutics and practices of maintaining patient safety and privacy. However, physicians need to be aware of ethically complex questions about implementation, uses and limitations of AI in health care.