|J Pathol Inform 2014,
American Telemedicine Association 2014 meeting: What did you miss?
Liron Pantanowitz1, Elizabeth A Krupinski2
1 Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2 Department of Medical Imaging, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA
|Date of Submission||10-Jun-2014|
|Date of Acceptance||23-Jun-2014|
|Date of Web Publication||28-Aug-2014|
Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Pantanowitz L, Krupinski EA. American Telemedicine Association 2014 meeting: What did you miss?. J Pathol Inform 2014;5:30
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), established in 1993, is a nonprofit organization that promotes the global use of advanced remote medical technologies.  The ATA's 2014 meeting held in Baltimore, MD in the USA May 17-21 was the largest ever, with approximately 5000 attendees from 43 different countries. The range of attendee backgrounds was quite diverse [Table 1]. However, only two pathologists, one oral pathologist and one imaging scientist registered for the meeting. There were 18 preconference half and full-day courses on topics ranging from telemedicine basics to dedicated topics such as human factors, publishing in telemedicine, business, and legal perspectives. There were nearly 600 presentations overall including breakout sessions, pre-meeting courses, plenaries, special interest sessions, and ePosters. This year, ePosters were also presented (each under 4 min) as lightening rounds. This was a great way to quickly cover lots of ground. Only one poster was dedicated to telepathology. 
The program had 14 tracks highlighting key elements of current telemedicine: Chronic disease management, patient-focused care, critical and acute care, clinical services case studies, mental health, business strategies, operational tools, legal and regulatory, pediatrics, federal programs, research and evaluation, ePosters, industry executive sessions, and innovative spotlight sessions. There was only one dedicated telepathology talk, which was an overview of the recent ATA clinical guidelines for telepathology. There was also very little content related to teleradiology, as opposed to previous years where there were many more talks in both of these areas. Perhaps telepathology and teleradiology are relatively more mature, and the ATA is the wrong place for presenters who are more commonly found at dedicated pathology, radiology, or informatics society meetings.
The importance of these areas with respect to healthcare in general was highlighted by the keynote speakers who were all healthcare visionaries:
- Paul Farmer, PhD founding director of Partners In Health speaking on "Telemedicine and the Future of Global Health"
- Stephen Hemsley, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Health Group discussing "Integrating Telemedicine"
- Reed Tuckson, MD Managing Director of Tuckson Health Connections, LLC, on "Making the Possible Happen"
- Jonathan Woodson, MD Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the US Department of Defense presenting "A Global Health Mission, A Smaller Military Force: The Promise and Opportunity for Telehealth in the Department of Defense".
As with all ATA meetings, the trade show was the focus of action for many attendees, and there was ample time to investigate and interact with the various vendors. The exhibit hall was the biggest ever with about 250 vendors covering all market segments of the telemedicine industry. For the second time, there was also a "Start Up Zone" for new technologies in the Exhibit Hall. In addition to traditional vendors, there were representatives from various publishers, service providers, and the National Telehealth Resource Centers. The only whole slide imaging vendor at the meeting was 3DHistech. Cloud computing is increasingly being utilized by pathology laboratories to address specific IT needs, such as telepathology and storage of Big Data.  Several vendors were offering Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant cloud services.
It was amazing to see the many ways mobile devices are being exploited for telemedicine. One vendor of note was Aezon, a team of student engineers from Johns Hopkins University who are driven to win the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE.  In order to win this $10 million prize, teams from around the world have been challenged to develop a mobile device that can diagnose 15 conditions and also capture vital health metrics.  Aezon had on display their prototype "lab box" [Figure 1], a portable device that reads disposable test cartridges for various diseases (e.g. streptococcal pharyngitis, urinary tract infection). This works together with an iOS app that queries user symptoms and uses a symptom analysis algorithm to determine which diseases to test for. A signal is sent using Bluetooth from the phone to the lab box regarding which test will be conducted. The iOS app subsequently displays instructions for how to use the lab box and displays all test results obtained from the lab box.
|Figure 1: The portable, lightweight lab box (Image courtesy of Tatiana Rypinski)|
Click here to view
Ironically, one of the founding members of the ATA in 1993 was a pathologist, Ronald S. Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein created one of the ATA's early educational courses (Pathology 101 course) and the institutional membership category. It would be nice to see a resurgence of telepathology at the ATA meeting. This is the perfect environment for members of the telepathology community to couple their tools, experience, ideas and business endeavors with like-minded telemedicine colleagues. It is equally important that pathologists partner with the ATA, and participate in generating Standards and Guidelines as these documents impact payers, policymakers and key decision makers.
| References|| |
|1.||American Telemedicine Association (ATA). Available from: http://www.americantelemed.org/home. [Last accessed on 2014 Jun 30]. |
|2.||Pantanowitz L, Smith DB, Ho J, Anthony L, Aridor O, Glinski D, et al. Design, implementation, and evaluation of a model telepathology network for the Air Force Medical Service (AFMS). Telemed E Health 2014;20:A1-144. |
|3.||Northover J, McVeigh B. Healthcare in the cloud: The opportunity and the challenge. MLO Med Lab Obs 2014;46:14, 16. |
|4.||Aezon. Available from: http://www.aezonhealth.com/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jun 30]. |
|5.||Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE. Available from: http://www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org/. [Last accessed on 2014 Jun 30]. |