AMA Seeks to Make Health Data Work Better for Doctors, Patients

A study that the American Medical Association commissioned last year found that time spent with electronic health records was taking away from time with patients and contributing to clinician burnout.

The American Medical Association (AMA) today launched a new platform that it hopes will let the mountains of accumulating health data work better for patients by making it easier for clinicians to quickly put their hands on the numbers they need.

Called the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI), the platform seeks to pair the health and technology sectors “around a common data model that is missing in health care,” according to a statement from AMA. The idea is to take unstructured data, which can include things like x-rays and clinicians' notes, and make it less fragmented so that physicians can use it at the point of care.

While the statement did not describe the IHMI as a substitute for current electronic health record (EHR) systems, a time and motion study by AMA last year found deep frustration among physicians with the amount of time they must spend dealing with EHRs, and that this frustration was a significant factor in physician burnout. What’s worse, the study found, EHRs in their current state are robbing physicians of time with patients.

The statement on IHMI said it promises to “foster patient care models that achieve better outcomes, as well as technical innovations to address poor interoperability, cumbersome or inadequate data structures, and an overload of point-and-click tasks that dampen clinician morale.”

The AMA, which represents 240,000 physicians, is opening the IHMI up to partners in the technology sector. Early collaborators include IBM and the American Medical Informatics Association. Other partners include the American Heart Association and Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City.

“We spend more than three trillion dollars a year on health care in America and generate more health data than ever before. Yet some of the most meaningful data—data to unlock potential improvements in patient outcomes—is fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete,” said AMA CEO James L. Madara, MD.

IHMI is designed to help physicians collect and organize the information that is most useful—including information they don’t have, like patient goals. The goal is give doctors easy-to-use actionable information and reduce the amount of time and number of “clicks” it takes for doctors to get what they need.

The early focus of the initiative will be:

· Building clinical communities to share information about areas of high cost and disease burden. The first 4 will be hypertension, diabetes prevention, asthma function, and defining what “wellness” means when bringing patients the best care. More communities will be added in 2018, the statement said.

· Creating a clinical validation process to build and apply frameworks. This process will take feedback from users online and accept online submissions for review.

· Specifying a model to encode data in to the IHMI model, so that clinical content can be easily referenced and distributed.