AMA brings physician, patient perspectives to HIMSS conference

Andis Robeznieks , Senior News Writer

The AMA is focused on making technology an asset, not a burden and the Association is taking that message to Orlando, Florida, where 45,000 health care and information technology professionals will gather for the Health Information Management Systems Society’s Global Conference and Exhibition. 

Attacking dysfunction in health care by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care has been another focus and, to that end, the AMA has been advocating for improving electronic health record (EHR) usability—as that is an area in which physicians have told the organization that its support is greatly needed. Learn more about the AMA’s digital health leadership

AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, spelled it out during her address to the House of Delegates at the 2018 AMA Interim Meeting

“Much of the EHR technology is dysfunctional; it grew out of the billing software, so it doesn’t give us the decision support or the information we need,” Dr. McAneny said. “The vendors of these systems like to paint doctors as Luddites who don’t like technology. They need to understand that we love technology; we just want technology that works.” 

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The AMA is taking the message to Orlando that, to be effective, innovations in medicine must be evidence-based, validated, actionable and strengthen the patient-doctor relationship.  

The HIMSS annual conference creates excitement in the field as companies on the exhibition floor announce deals and the nation’s top health care officials use the occasion to break news from the speaker’s podium. Scheduled to appear are Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar II, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Don Rucker, MD, the National Coordinator for Health IT. 

Updated mobile health-application guidelines concerning privacy, security, operability, usability and content are expected to be released for public comment by Xcertia, a nonprofit founded by the AMA and other major players in health care and technology.

The AMA’s involvement with the Xcertia effort is an outgrowth of policy adopted in 2016 by the AMA House of Delegates on the integration of mHealth apps and devices into medical practice. HIMSS is one of the AMA’s partners in Xcertia’s effort to collaboratively develop mHealth-industry guidelines. The American Heart Association and digital health nonprofit DHX Group are also partners.

Xcertia is also part of the AMA’s effort to flip the traditional model of innovation by incorporating patient and physician perspectives and needs more deeply in the early stages of design.  

To advance this goal, the AMA launched Health 2047, a Silicon Valley enterprise that works toward “getting health care technology right.” So far, it has launched two entities: Akiri, which is working to solve issues of data liquidity, and First Mile Care, which is working to help physicians connect their patients to local lifestyle-change programs that have been proven to lower the risk of prediabetes progressing to type 2 diabetes. 

Similarly, Kate Kirley, MD, a family physician and director of chronic disease prevention at the AMA, and Mamta Gakhar, director of healthcare integration at YMCA of the USA, will present their findings looking at how best to facilitate communication and data flow between physicians and YMCA-run lifestyle-change programs. 

Their presentation, entitled “Bidirectional eReferrals Between Health Systems and YMCAs,” answers the question “Will it work for my practice?”  

That key question is one of four the AMA developed with physician input to guide partnerships, policies and involvement with digital health products. The others are: Does it work? Will I be liable? Will I be reimbursed? 

Paul H. Westfall, will be answering the question on liability and explaining physicians’ risk in a presentation entitled “Applying the Fraud and Abuse Laws in Digital Health.” 

“I'll discuss how using digital health technologies may make you vulnerable to violating the False Claims Act, anti-kickback statute, Stark law, and civil monetary penalties—also, the perception that digital health is worse than traditional health may cause payers to have less of a desire to reimburse for digital health modalities,” Westfall said. 

A presentation on “Leveraging Technology to Improve Prior Authorization” will be given by Heather McComas, PharmD, director of AMA administrative simplifications initiatives, and Tyler Scheid, AMA senior policy analyst.