American Medical Association CEO: Beware of poor-quality digital ‘advancements’

James L. Madara, MD, addressed the 2016 AMA Annual Meeting, stressing the need to weed out electronic products that waste providers’ time and confuse patients.
By Jessica Davis
03:30 PM

Digital advancements are poised to shape healthcare and improve provider satisfaction and patient outcomes. However, many of these purported ‘innovations’ are actually disrupting practices. This is according to American Medical Association Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, in an address at the 2016 AMA Annual meeting Saturday July 11.

Referencing a recent AMA study, Madara said that “50 percent of physician time is devoted to the keyboard. Only one-third of physician time is free to interact with patients. To compound this, physicians also spend two hours each evening on the keyboard, finishing the data entry from the day.”

“Our current state? American physicians have become the most expensive data entry workforce on the face of the planet,” he added. “What a waste. And how frustrating.”

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The AMA is working on this issue in four ways: forming partnerships with health IT vendors and manufacturers; building relationships with vendors; using data from its research group Health2047 to address identified issues; and acknowledging the current state of healthcare, Madara explained.

[Also:EHR use a 'frustrating' time suck, physicians tell American Medical Association]

Physician input in the development of new products is crucial to building effective digital products, Madara said. The AMA is now conveying to manufacturers what providers need to free up more time for patient interaction.

“We’d do much better if products and services are deeply informed by our actual problems and needs, rather than flying on an entrepreneur’s incomplete view,” Madara said. “The relationship between physician and patient isn’t a transactional one. But it is one that requires time; time that should be made available by helpful digital tools. We need that. And we need to be directly involved to make that happen.”

Also speaking at the conference was AMA President Steven J. Stack, who stated the AMA’s work is “building a bridge to 21st Century medicine and shaping the future for a new generation of physicians.”

However, many physicians are feeling the stress and frustration over the current state of healthcare – including pressures of meaningful use.

[Also: AMA invests $15 million to launch Silicon Valley innovation hub Health2047]

This will be overcome by the organization’s “tireless advocacy in the nation's capital that will bring an end to Meaningful Use as we know it,” according to Stack, “and working to untangle the convoluted payment systems that contribute to so much physician dissatisfaction.”

“But rather than bemoan our challenges, I want to reassure physicians and medical students that, as leaders, we see a brighter future on the horizon and know a path to get us there,” he added.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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Digital Transformation

Top row - left to right: Dr Don Rucker, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), HHS Office of the Secretary, US, Tim Kelsey, SVP - Analytics, HIMSS, Australia and Dr Ahmed Balkhair, Saudi Arabia’s Digital Transformation Advisor, Ministry of Health. 

Bottom row: Dr Anne Snowdon, Director of Clinical Research - Analytics, HIMSS, Canada.

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