Navigating the digital health landscape


Meg Barron, director of digital health strategy for the AMA, talks about how the AMA has been working on key initiatives to ensure the effectiveness and trust of developing health technology.

From online patient portals to electronically placed prescriptions to telemedicine, technology is everywhere.

With 300,000+ digital health apps on the market and more than 200 being added every day, it’s currently very difficult for physicians and patients to navigate the growing digital health landscape. That said, patients are embracing technology and physicians are more than willing to adopt digital health solutions if they can answer these key questions: 

  • Does it work? 
  • Will I receive payment? 
  • Will I be liable? 
  • Will it work in my practice?

As a result, we are focused on ensuring these questions are addressed and that physician and patient perspectives are represented in the design, implementation and evaluation of new technologies. 

If we’ve learned one thing from the development of electronic health records, it’s that physicians need to not just be at the table, but have a center seat. Physicians understand the needs of both the patient and the organization. Quite simply without the input of the end-users—those who provide the care and who are on the front lines with immediate needs—health care is not going to be as good or effective as it can be.

In recent years, the American Medical Association has been on a journey to improve the quality of digital health solutions and to accelerate the adoption of those solutions that have proven to be trusted and effective. As a result, we’ve been working on key initiatives to bring some clarity to the chaos.

First, Xcertia—a collaborative effort with numerous leading organizations to establish and promote best practices and develop guidelines to improve the safety and effectiveness of consumer mobile health applications. 

Next, the AMA Physician Innovation Network platform, which is fulfilling a key role by facilitating connections between doctors and health tech companies. The goal? Leverage physician involvement to get better solutions to market.

We know that innovators are good at technology, but don’t necessarily have a health care background—while physicians are living and breathing real issues every day, they don’t necessarily know how to bring solutions to fruition. 

To help connect the currently siloed health tech ecosystem, we also host virtual panel discussions on an ongoing basis with topics that help address clinicians’ key requirements for digital health. As part of these online discussions, we select panelists from a wide range of backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, health system administrators, EHR vendors, physicians and patients to identify and discuss challenges, opportunities and best practices. 

Most recently, we launched the AMA Digital Health Implementation Playbook to help tackle current barriers for adopting digital health solutions in practice. The playbook is a resource to help highlight the most efficient paths for applying digital health solutions—including key steps and best practices from more than 80 national contributors, such as entrepreneurs, patients, care team members and physicians. The initial chapter homes in on remote patient monitoring, while subsequent steps plan to focus on additional interventions, such as e-consults or AI. The playbook can help physicians and care teams, while also giving entrepreneurs who build these tools a real-world perspective to help a solution succeed. 

Overall, we are committed to collaborate with innovators to make technology an asset—not a burden—for physicians and patients nationwide.

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