How ‘digital’ is taking over US healthcare

From managing physicians' health to collaborating for innovation, the American Medical Association is tapping digital tools for everything.
4 March 2020

There’s no stopping the new wave of digital healthcare now. Source: Shutterstock

Going digital is key to surviving in the digital age, even if you’re not a commercial entity.

The American Medical Association (AMA), for example, is aggressively trying to accelerate its journey to digital in order to ensure that members can get the right kind of support in their own efforts to embrace technology.

A recent survey that the medical association undertook showed that more physicians are now interested in leveraging digital health tools.

“The rise of the digital-native physician will have a profound impact on healthcare and patient outcomes, and will place digital health technologies under pressure to perform according to higher expectations,” said AMA Board Chair Jesse Ehrenfeld.

“The AMA survey […] sets an industry guidepost for understanding what a growing number of physicians require to adopt new technology.”

While the survey provides insights to physicians and healthcare institutions, it also provided the medical association with important guidance about going digital. As a result, it created a new online resource to help physicians navigate the legal complexities and operational challenges of providing patients with access to their digital health information.

The announcement was regarded by experts as a great first step towards convenience and accessibility in the healthcare space in the US. The guidance has been packaged in a document dubbed the Patient Records Electronic Access Playbook and is comprised of four parts.

Overall, the AMA believes that the resource they’ve created provides all the practical tips, case scenarios, and best practices needed to protect patients’ privacy while empowering patients and their caregivers with convenient electronic access to their complete medical records.

“As technology plays an increasingly important role in collecting and exchanging health data, the AMA believes that providing patients with improved information access and better information privacy are not mutually exclusive goals.”

Collaboration is key to thriving in the digital world

Shortly after the launch of the playbook, the medical association made two other announcements which subtly made one very important point: Collaborations can help organizations accelerate their journey to digital dexterity and maturity.

The first announcement said that the AMA has found a strategic partner to help it explore the documentation burden that distracts from patient care and demoralizes highly-trained physicians can be reduced.

“Documentation overload interferes with patient care and contributes significantly to physician burnout. Our aim is to explore technology innovation that can reduce this burden and provide physicians more time with patients, not paperwork,” said AMA CEO James Madara.

The collaboration, which expects to facilitate the transformation of clinical conversations between patients and physicians into reliable medical chart notes, is expected to help reduce burnout and physician turnover and save US healthcare institutions about US$4.6 billion in costs.

The other announcement is slightly out of the ordinary for the AMA, indicating a certain boldness to the medical association’s desire to leap into the digital era.

It has partnered with the RedCrow, a direct investment platform for health care innovation, to help entrepreneurs connect with physicians to design products and solutions that are better aligned with the needs and wants of the industry.

“The AMA believes when physicians and entrepreneurs are aligned on the challenges and opportunities in health care, we can expect meaningful advances from medical technology,” explained Madara.

“The new collaboration brings together the expertise of physicians and the passion of entrepreneurs to develop cutting-edge technology that improves the way the health care system works.”

Obviously, it is clear that the medical association is playing catch up when it comes to digital — but it’s making a wholehearted effort and doing a commendable job as far as market observers can tell.

If successful, it’ll transform not just itself but also the lives of physicians, patients, and healthcare institutions across the US.