American Telemedicine Association CEO abruptly steps down

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Jonathan Linkous has resigned as CEO of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), the group announced on Aug. 7, after leading the organization since it was founded in 1993.

“Jon was integral in the formation of the ATA and the telehealth industry,” Peter Yellowlees, MD, MBBS, ATA’s current board president, said in a statement. “We thank Jon for his many years of service and his significant contributions to ATA and the industry he helped create.”

Taking over the role on an interim basis will be Sabrina Smith, DHA, the group’s COO since January. A search for a permanent replacement is now underway, according to the ATA.

The sudden departure of Linkous brought up questions about whether he left voluntarily. Other groups in the health technology space, like the The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) have announced changes in leadership many months in advance. Yellowlees told POLITICO that Linkous “had a few life changes, I think,” but added the board thought he had done a “very, very good job overall” as the group’s leader.

During Linkous’s 24 years in charge, the group had grown to nearly 10,000 members. It wasn’t, however, seen as the main representative of the growing telehealth field.

“You would expect them to have a bigger voice in the Washington policy arena,” Neal Neuberger, a former executive director of HIMSS’s Institute for eHealth Policy who has consulted for the ATA since 2016, said to POLITICO. “They just didn’t.”