The AMA is teaming with IDEA Labs, a technology incubator, to work with students at five universities who are developing new technologies for physicians that take into account how practices really operate.

In many ways, technology has not made healthcare simpler because the technology is clunky and wasn’t designed to support physician practice workflows, says James Madara, MD, CEO and executive vice president of the American Medical Association. Electronic health records are a prime example, he adds, noting that unlike other industries, “healthcare is not a linear manufacturing process; it’s more of a systems engineering problem.”

James Madara, MD
James Madara, MD

Another problem with technology development is monolithic—the belief that a product will work throughout a delivery system when it isn’t flexible enough to do so, Madara notes. “There are institutions that develop their own innovation labs, but while the products are helpful within their walls, they are not scalable elsewhere.”

Consequently, AMA physicians will work with student entrepreneurs at Washington University in St. Louis, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania and University of Minnesota to get into the product development process early and bridge the gap between smart ideas and the day-to-day realities of patient care. “These students have ideas and we want to help develop them in a realistic way,” Madara says.

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Physicians need technology, such as artificial intelligence, to standardize data in electronic health record systems and make sense of the data to track patients and the treatments they are getting over time, he adds. Another major need for physicians is real interoperability because primary care physicians working with specialists to treat patients with chronic disease—even when using the same EHR—often cannot share information.

In addition to the new collaboration with IDEA Labs, the AMA has a partnership with the MATTER incubator in Chicago and is a founding partner in Health 2047, an incubator in San Francisco.

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