To advance digital health, doctors and developers gather in person

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

Over the years, a powerful role for the AMA has been to serve as a convener, bringing physicians and others together to find effective, innovative solutions to health care’s biggest challenges.

Put telehealth into practice

The AMA leads the charge to expand advocacy, research and resources that keep physician and patient needs at the forefront of telehealth delivery.

At a recent AMA Physician Innovation Network (PIN) event, physicians and technology innovators got together to discuss specific needs and created hundreds of connections among health care technology stakeholders.

“We’re bringing you all here together because you need to talk to each other—we want to facilitate a network,” Amanda Azadian, PIN product manager, said. “Are you looking to build your team? There is a lot of incredible talent in this room.”

The event was the AMA PIN IRL—that is, in real life experience of the online platform— a reception held at MATTER, a health technology start-up incubator housed in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. It took place the evening before the opening of the Health Information Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) Global Health Conference, which drew some 35,000 attendees.

The AMA is one of MATTER’s partner organizations and AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, sits on its board of directors and AMA VP Digital Health Innovations Meg Barron sits is on its advisory board.

The PIN community includes physicians, entrepreneurs, health care administrators, investors, patients, care team members, caregivers, researchers and others looking to remove obstacles to patient care, share best practices, and bring better solutions to market in collaboration.

“Connections are just the beginning,” Azadian said, explaining that an underlying goal of all these efforts was to make technology an asset in enhancing patient care and not a burden that creates burnout among physicians.

The AMA also serves as a lead sponsor for the In Full Health Learning and Action Community, which encourages development of digital solutions that address the needs of historically marginalized communities while ensuring that new tools don’t unintentionally embed bias. Azadian invited attendees to connect with In Full Health to help evaluate their company’s efforts to address health equity.

The next PIN IRL event at MATTER is June 9. Join the PIN platform to learn about all upcoming events.

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Andrew Fritts, chief financial officer for Chicago-based AtheleMED Concierge Medical Group, attended the event looking to make connections for his company, which started as a physician home-visit organization in 2018 and has been doing telehealth since 2020.

AtheleMED services include home visits by medical assistants with a video connection to physicians who oversee the care of about 100 Medicare enrollees a month.

“The patients seem to love it,” Fritts said, adding that they especially like avoiding the transportation issues that can make visiting a doctor’s office an ordeal.

Enabling treatment at home is the value delivered by the remote patient monitoring system from Israel-based start-up ATLASense Biomed, said electrical engineer Shimon Yisraelian, the company’s vice president of hardware and engineering.

The system’s patch sensor and predictive analytics provide early detection of breathing deterioration, Yisraelian explained.

The results shown by ATLASense Biomed impressed physicians at Henry Ford Health who named the company the winner of its 2020 Global Health Tech Challenge. Henry Ford Health is part of the AMA Health System Program.

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Raven Cobb is the vice president of marketing and growth for Clearstep Smart Care Routing, a Chicago-based company providing “clinically validated triage” with digital self-service symptom checking to help direct patients to a site offering the proper level of care and aid in de-escalating emergency department traffic.

The company uses augmented intelligence (AI)—often called artificial intelligence—to power its symptom checker. It was founded in 2018, but “really got rolling” during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cobb said.

Another company using an AI-driven service is Boston-based juli, which works with value-based care organizations to support patients with physical and behavioral chronic conditions by pinpointing factors that improve or worsen their conditions.

“We tap into a lot of data sources to find those triggers,” said CEO and Founder Bettina Hein, adding that the information is shared with patients’ primary care physicians.

Many attendees were wearing stickers that included the question that they hoped that someone at the event could answer. Hein’s sticker asked “What are the main pain points for primary care?”

While many attendees were involved with advancing telehealth, the San Jose company co-founded by Belinda Batdorf, HubbleIQ, helps health care organizations “avoid technical risk” by making sure their telehealth and remote patient monitoring services are in compliance with ever-shifting laws and regulations.

Batdorf, who also serves as chief operating officer, said it was her first time at a PIN event.

“We want to get better at solving problems,” she said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Two University of Chicago students—Julia Ran, of the Pritzker School of Medicine, and Kana Muto, of the Harris School of Public Policy—had developed a program to help patients choose a doctor based on their own particular social and medical needs.

“It’s hard to make that initial choice,” Ran said, while noting the problem of trying to make such an important choice based on random online reviews.

Similarly, LGBTQ+ patients often rely on social media to find physicians or other clinicians to meet their unique needs.

Inclusive+, the company co-founded by pharmacist and data scientist Monika Lach, PharmD, provides personal and cultural responsiveness training for physicians, including access to accredited continuing medical education courses and a competency quiz.

Many physicians haven’t received training in LGBTQ+ issues and “a lot don’t feel comfortable talking about them,” Lach said, so Inclusive+ provides patients with a vetted pool of physicians to pick from.

There are six other PIN IRL events scheduled for 2023.