Telehealth Awareness Week: Supporting the National Movement to Advance Virtual Care

August 17, 2021 - In the wake of the unprecedented challenges our healthcare system has faced since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, one message has become abundantly clear: Telehealth is Health. As national lockdowns threatened to restrict access to quality care for millions of patients, telehealth played a critical role in supporting the delivery of healthcare services. Michigan Academy of Family Physicians supports Telehealth Awareness Week, presented by the American Telemedicine Association, September 19-25.

Telehealth has been an important element in U.S. healthcare for decades, but the COVID-19 public health emergency has put a spotlight on the need to maintain and expand access to telehealth to ensure everyone can receive appropriate care when and where they need it. Following the unprecedented use of virtual care services in response to COVID-19, telehealth now represents 15-20% of care delivery, confirming the need to create a two-channel healthcare system that balances in-person and virtual care.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 80% of members began offering virtual visits for the first time during COVID-19 and 71% would like to provide more virtual visits in the future. As long as appropriate standards of care are followed, AAFP supports the use of telehealth and telemedicine (care received from a family physician) to improve health.

During Telehealth Awareness Week, MAFP is joining a range of stakeholders, including leaders in healthcare and patient advocacy, in highlighting the growing acceptance and value of virtual care. Through our collective efforts, we have a special opportunity to deliver new informational resources to support broader access to telehealth for patients, caregivers, and family physicians and other healthcare professionals. We encourage everyone help us build telehealth awareness this September and amplify the importantmessage: Telehealth is Health.

To learn more about activities planned for Telehealth Awareness Week and opportunities to participate, visit the official Telehealth Awareness Week website at TelehealthAwareness.org.

To support members, AAFP offers free telehealth toolkit to assist family physicians in building and growing sustainable telehealth programs in practice. Click here for other resources compiled by AAFP.