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AMA CEO Madara Outlines Digital Challenges, Opportunities Facing Medicine

In his address to the House of Delegates at the American Medical Association (AMA) Annual Meeting, AMA CEO James L Madara, MD, outlined the challenges and opportunities facing medicine in today's rapidly-changing digital economy. Madara drew a direct line between the technological innovations happening today and the challenges that dotted the health landscape at the time of the AMA's founding, when the AMA played a leading role in stamping out quackery and creating standards for medical education.

"Today we have really remarkable tools—robotic surgery, new forms of radiation treatment, targeted biologics—and we live in a time of rapid development in the digital world—telemedicine as an example," Madara said in prepared remarks. "But appearing in disguise among these positive products are other digital so-called advancements that don't have an appropriate evidence base, or just don't work that well—or actually impede care, confuse patients, and waste our time.

"From ineffective electronic health records, to an explosion of direct-to-consumer digital health products, to apps of mixed quality—it's the digital snake oil of the early 21st century."

Madara also spoke about how the AMA is advancing its mission by partnering with leaders across health care that are keenly focused on technologies that work better for our patients and physicians and seeking ways to bring the physician voice into the innovation space. Recent efforts to create an AMA innovation ecosystem include the following:

Through its innovation ecosystem, the AMA is building bridges to tech innovators and entrepreneurs so that physicians have a seat at the table as new products and services are being developed. This ultimately ensures new medical products address real-world challenges for physicians and patients to help improve the health of the nation.

Additional remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Madara's speech include the following:

"Even those digital products that might be helpful often lack a way of enriching the relationship between the physician and the patient."

"More and more we're seeing digital tools in medicine that, unlike digital tools in other industries, make the provision of care less, not more, efficient. And these digital tools often don't connect with each other—interoperability remains a dream."

"We were told that interoperability was the future; we didn't expect that it would always be in the future."

"The future is not about eliminating physicians, it's about leveraging physicians."

"That means leveraging physicians by providing digital and other tools that work like they do in virtually all other industries—making our environments more supportive; providing the data we actually need in an organized, efficient way; and saving time so we can spend more of it with our patients."

Source: American Medical Association