PHILADELPHIA, November 11, 2023 — According to the American Medical Association, approximately 25 percent of all patients used telehealth services during the last year, exceeding the 5 percent who accessed their care this way before the pandemic. The American Heart Association (AHA) Center for Telehealth, unveiled today, recognizes the critical role telehealth can play as a solution to close gaps in health care access, particularly in rural and underserved areas, and deliver quality care to populations that have little to no access to traditional health care providers or facilities.
Made possible by a $15.9 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the AHA Center for Telehealth will create gold-standard telehealth education and resources through collaboration with the telehealth community. The center will provide evidence-based education about telehealth, telehealth certification for health care professionals, and deliver solutions that maximize telehealth access for everyone everywhere, improving clinical quality.
Telehealth services became increasingly popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telehealth utilization has dramatically increased by 400 percent and is now used by 25 percent of patients. It’s estimated that approximately $250 billion — or 20 percent — of all Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payer outpatient, clinic and home health spending could potentially be shifted to virtual care. Additionally, the latest data from FAIR Health shows that hypertension made up 14 percent of asynchronous telehealth diagnoses.
“Over the past three years, a huge proportion of care has shifted to the virtual landscape as clinicians and patients search for a safe, reliable way to receive needed care,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “Telehealth as a method of care delivery can potentially transform the health care system, reducing costs and increasing quality, patient focus and patient satisfaction. We are so grateful for Helmsley’s generosity and commitment. Improving access to high quality care will save more lives and continue to meet people where they are.”
The AHA Center for Telehealth aims to accelerate the integration of telehealth into the general health care delivery system, helping to realize the full potential for telehealth technology to transform health care so that where a patient lives does not dictate the type and quality of care they receive.
Building on an interconnected foundation of professional education, individual professional certification, implementation science, and patient engagement, the AHA Center for Telehealth will: improve the knowledge, skills and competency of health care professionals’ delivery of telehealth services; establish and disseminate best practices and quality standards to guide telehealth integration into chronic disease management, and build the evidence base for telehealth integration.
Evidence suggests that telehealth can make care more effective, accessible and efficient, particularly for those who otherwise lack access to quality health care. Telehealth can also help address physician burnout by reducing clinicians’ drive times and allowing more time for direct patient care.
The American Heart Association has long recognized the value and potential of virtual care, propelling science, education, and quality improvement in the areas of telestroke, digital health, remote patient monitoring, and more.
“It is vital that providers develop competencies through proper training and possess the tools to provide quality, and equitable, telehealth services,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “We are committed to ensuring that providers have access to the latest, evidence-based resources to deliver telehealth, operationally and clinically, to improve patient outcomes. The delivery of optimal virtual care starts with gold-standard telehealth education that advances the skills of health care professionals, and we are pleased to support the American Heart Association as a leader and trustworthy source of telehealth resources that benefit patients, health care professionals and health systems.”
Helmsley, a longstanding contributor to the American Heart Association’s mission, strives to improve access to quality health care in the rural Upper Midwest and beyond. This grant brings Helmsley’s total contributions to the American Heart Association to more than $82 million.
- Multimedia is available in the right column of the release link.
- American Heart Association Center for Telehealth
- AHA news release: New telehealth certification available to health care professionals
- Certified Professional by the American Heart Association (CPAHA) – Telehealth
- Follow AHA/ASA news on X (formerly known as Twitter): @HeartNews
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $4 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $600 million to organizations and initiatives in the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.
For Media Inquiries:
American Heart Association: Sarah D. Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)
Helmsley Charitable Trust: Michelle Tsai, email@example.com,
 AMA 2023 Telehealth report (https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/digital/what-expect-telehealth-2023-here-are-5-predictions)