Why health care innovation can’t happen without doctors’ insights

Kevin B. O'Reilly , Senior News Editor

What’s in the news: Recent reports indicate that digital health companies struggle to find success  because, too often, their medical experts and technologists inhabit different worlds, fail to communicate effectively and end up making decisions that are at odds with each other. 

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Now the AMA’s top digital health experts are advising health technologists to help them avoid these mistakes. In an article, “How to Engage Physicians in Innovative Health Care Efforts,” that was published in Harvard Business Review, these experts outlined the keys to digital health success and highlighted the AMA Physician Innovation Network and the 900-plus companies and more than 11,000 users participating on the platform. 

Why it matters to patients and physicians: “There is no shortage of digital health offerings” that promise to improve the patient experience, population health and health professionals’ work lives while cutting costs, notes the article, which was co-written by the AMA’s chief medical information officer Michael Hodgkins, MD, and Association digital health strategy executives Meg Barron and Stacy Lloyd, MPH. 

The digital health efforts “include apps, devices, augmented intelligence and data analytics,” they added, noting that, unfortunately, “it is unclear how many of these options solve the right problems based on actual user needs.” 

That is why physician engagement is essential digital health success—for doctors, patients and the entire health system. And it’s also why the AMA created the Physician Innovation Network, “which connects physicians, residents, and medical students to health technology companies and entrepreneurs,” the AMA’s experts wrote.  

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What’s next: Doctors and other users’ experience with the Physician Innovation Network platform has offered key insights. Digital health companies hoping to succeed should follow this hard-won wisdom, says the article. 

Engage early and often. The AMA-Sling Health created the Clinical Problem Database, for example, is a place where physicians “share unmet needs in health care delivery and clinical medicine.” 

Obtain diverse perspectives. The views of one health system chief medical officer or physician family friend are not enough. 

Be respectful of time and expertise. If you schedule time with a physician to get input, stick to it. 

Learn more about the AMA’s digital health leadership to ensure the physician perspective is represented in the design, implementation and evaluation of new health care technologies.