| November 1, 2018

AMA Launches Playbook To Help Physicians Understand Digital Health Better

Nqaba Matshazi

Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets... Nqaba has been working as an investigative journalist for the last 10 years. He has written for various media outlets across the world.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has launched a playbook to help physicians successfully adopt digital health.

AMA says the “Digital Health Implementation Playbook offers a guide to the most efficient path for applying digital health solutions including key steps, best practices, and resources to accelerate and achieve digital health adoption.”

AMA, America’s largest physician organization, said while digital health was increasingly becoming ubiquitous, there was a huge knowledge gap, which they hoped the Digital Health Implementation Playbook would plug.

Playbook to help ease physicians’ anxieties on using digital health

“Despite the increasing prevalence of digital health, health system leaders struggle to drive innovation. They are looking for a better and more efficient path to scaled implementation, but report that knowledge gained by other organizations and best practices are not readily available. This playbook is an effort to provide widespread access to institutional knowledge and best practices currently held by experts in the field,” the playbook’s introduction reads.

One worry for physicians, researchers, and decision makers, AMA said in a statement, was that “adoption and implementation of digital health solutions can be difficult and time-consuming.”

In a report released earlier this year, AMA had noted that some digital health solutions were frustrating and logistically challenging and hence were unlikely to be used by physicians. On the other hand physicians were wary that digital health solutions could reduce face time with patients. “Physicians also highlight concerns about the accuracy and reliability of data in digital health systems.”

With the playbook, AMA is working to “help physicians navigate and maximize technology for improved patient care and professional satisfaction.”

AMA chair-elect Jesse Ehrenfeld said the adoption of digital health solutions could be a challenge for those without a “clear course to success” and she hoped the playbook would show the way.

“The AMA is committed to making technology an asset, not a burden, and the playbook provides the medical community with widespread access to a proven path for implementing digitally enabled health and care. The playbook’s roadmap is based on institutional knowledge and best practices convened by the AMA from a wide array of experts in the field,” Ehrenfeld said.

AMA envisions the playbook as a “living document,” which will reflect ongoing changes and new content over time.

The association explained that its playbook was created for care teams, and administrators in medical practices. AMA worked with more than 80 physicians, care team members, health care administrators, patients, and digital health thought leaders to come up with the playbook, which it hopes will motivate the medical community to adopt change faster and more successfully.

The playbook’s steps to successfully adopting digital health innovations

The playbook has 12 steps, which the AMA hopes can help physicians in the adoption of digital health solutions.

“The first six steps are fundamental to the implementation of any digital health solution. The subsequent six steps focus on specific digital health solutions and the unique considerations relevant to that specific technology,” AMA explained.

The playbook primarily focuses on remote patient monitoring, which they said could present an
opportunity to better understand and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and chronic heart failure.

“As more connected devices and wearables are validated as accurate, reliable and effective health care tools, the medical community is increasingly looking to integrate digital health and mobile health technology into medical practices to better understand and manage chronic diseases outside of the practice environment as health care shifts toward value-based reimbursements,” the AMA statement said.

Formerly skeptical AMA warms up to digital health innovations

While AMA was initially skeptical about jumping onto the digital health bandwagon, the organization now advocates for the adoption of digital health innovations, but worries that it takes too long for physicians to adopt new technologies. AMA estimates that on average it takes 17 years for new health care technologies to reach market saturation.

In pushing for the adoption of digital health innovations, in 2016 AMA polled 1,300 physicians on several digital health tools such as telemedicine and telehealth, mobile health, wearable, remote monitoring, and mobile apps.

At the time, Steven Stack, a former AMA president said, the organization was “dedicated to shaping a future when digital health tools are evidence based, validated, interoperable, and actionable. To make this prospect a reality in the near-term, the AMA is ensuring that physicians play a greater role in leading digital health innovations that expand the bounds of science, enhance patient care, shape a better health care system, and improve the health of the nation.”

In 2017, AMA published guiding principles for digital health tools.

 


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