Digital health encompasses a broad scope of tools that can improve health care, enable lifestyle change and create operational efficiencies. This includes digital solutions involving telemedicine and telehealth, mHealth, wearables, remote monitoring, apps and others.
In July 2016, the AMA first conducted a study of physicians' motivations and requirements for the adoption of digital clinical tools. While there is broad-based optimism, physicians told the AMA there are “must-haves” that digital health tools need to turn their enthusiasm into adoption.
These requirements fall into the following categories:
- Does it work?
- Will I receive payment?
- Will I be liable?
- Will it work in my practice?
As these tools matured, the AMA repeated the study in 2019 (PDF) and 2022 (PDF) to determine the degree to which adoption has occurred in the past few years and any attitudinal shifts among physicians towards their use and key requirements.
This survey also looked at emerging technologies including various applications of augmented intelligence.
Physicians are increasingly seeing the advantages of digital health solutions since 2016 when the AMA first investigated the motivations, requirements and uses of digital health technology among physicians.
“The physician adoption rate of digital health tools has accelerated as physicians grow increasingly optimistic about the advantages that properly designed digital health tools can have for patient care if key requirements are met,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD. “The AMA survey illustrates the importance physicians place on validated digital health tools that improve health while streamlining the technological and administrative burdens faced each day in medicine. These technologies also must be designed and deployed in ways that advance health equity.”
The AMA Digital Health Research surveyed 1,300 physicians in three regular intervals between 2016 and 2022 to investigate physician motivations and requirements for integrating digital health tools into their practices. According to the AMA survey, the following adoption trends among physicians are helping to propel the digital transformation of health care:
- There has been an increase in the percentage of physicians that feel there are advantages in leveraging digital health solutions. The percentage of physicians who feel digital health tools are an advantage for patient care grew from 85% in 2016 to 93% in 2022, and increases were measured across all physicians irrespective of age or specialty.
- Adoption of digital tools has grown significantly among all physicians regardless of gender, specialty, or age. The average number of digital health tools in use by a physician grew from 2.2 in 2016 to 3.8 in 2022.
- Improved clinical outcomes and work efficiency are the top factors influencing physician interest in digital health tools. The ability to help reduce stress and burnout has also gained importance as a key driver of digital tool adoption. Liability coverage remains the most important requirement for physician adoption of digital health tools followed by integration with their EHR and assurances for data privacy.
- The largest growth in adoption was among digital health tools that aid in remote care. The percentage of physicians using tele-visits/virtual visits grew from 14% in 2016 to 80% in 2022 while the percentage of physicians using remote monitoring devices grew from 12% in 2016 to 30% in 2022.
- The digital health tools that garner the most enthusiasm among physicians are tele-visits (57%) followed by remote monitoring devices (53%).
- Intentions are high for the future adoption of emerging technologies, but current usage is low.
- Two in 5 physicians plan to adopt augmented intelligence in the next year, while nearly 1 in 5 physicians are currently using augmented intelligence in their practices. While current usage of digital therapeutics is low, they have the highest percentage of planned incorporation in the future.
The AMA is dedicated to shaping a future that ensures digital health solutions are an asset and not an additional burden for physicians and patients. Through its ongoing work, the AMA is committed to ensuring physicians have a greater role in leading the design and implementation of trustworthy and equitable health care technologies that enhance patient care, shape a better health care system and improve the health of the nation.