AMA's Wah envisions third wave of IT innovation
Whereas the American Medical Association has documented how health IT can at times gets in the way of physicians' ability to provide top-notch care due to shortfalls in the areas of usability and interoperability, AMA president Robert Wah, MD sees a bright future ahead.
"I am a pragmatic optimist,” Wah explained. “My outlook is that we are in the third phase of a transformation.”
The first wave was getting people off of paper and onto a digital platform. The second phase was networking the information together. And the current phase, a natural follow-on to the first two, is to analyze the network of digital information now available.
"Using powerful computers and other technologies will give us new insights into how to take better care of patients," Wah predicted.
Wah is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at Sunday’s Innovation Symposium at HIMSS15.
He pointed to success the retail industry has had in merging information from various sources — a consumer's GPS, text and social media activity, credit card charges, and weather and traffic patterns, for instance — to predict a likely outcome. From those otherwise disparate pieces of information, retail outlets can glean predictions about buying patterns, suggesting that a certain individual, for example, stands an 85 percent likelihood of buying a grande latte at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon.
By applying those same innovative technologies and tactics to healthcare information, Wah suggested, physicians could be able to predict the chance of a diabetic, asthmatic or hypertensive patient having a problem one Sunday afternoon. And that's crucial because chronic disease affects patients not just for the few minutes spent during an office visit, but for the rest of the time when they are elsewhere.
"In the new world, by putting these different sources of information together, data will begin to speak to us – rather than us asking the data what will happen,” Wah said. “Patterns will emerge from the information that has been merged together for the first time and tell us things that we would have never thought of asking.”
The Innovation Symposium is slated for Sunday, April 12, 2015 at HIMSS15 in Chicago’s McCormick Place from 8:15 a.m. - 4:15 p.m. in room S404.