AMA: Growing numbers of docs embracing digital health tech

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Adoption of digital health tools by physicians in the last three years has grown significantly, according to an American Medical Association survey of more than 1,300 doctors.

AMA found that not only has there been an increase in the number of physicians that see a “definite advantage” in using digital health technology, but the rise in usage extends to all doctors surveyed regardless of gender, specialty or age.

The 2019 survey results, released Thursday, provide an update to a 2016 AMA study. What they show is that more than 87 percent of physicians see at least some advantage in digital health tools, and almost 30 percent of doctors have adopted the technology.

“Requirements for adopting digital health tools have remained unchanged,” according to the AMA. “Integration with EHR and being as good as traditional care are the two key requirements. The importance of digital health tools being covered by standard malpractice insurance has increased significantly as a requirement. Demonstration of safety and efficacy in peer-reviewed publications has also increased in importance.”

When it comes to using digital health tools, the 2019 survey results indicate that the top motivators for physician usage are improved efficiency and increased patient safety, while patient adherence, convenience and helping address physician burnout also increased in importance.

“While all digital health tools have seen increases in physician adoption since 2016, the biggest growth in adoption was among digital tools in the categories of tele-visits/virtual visits and remote monitoring for improved patient care,” according to the AMA. “Driving this adoption is a significant increase in the importance physicians place in providing remote care to patients.”

AMA reported that tele-visits have seen the greatest growth among doctors, doubling in use from 14 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2019. In addition, physician adoption of remote monitoring for improved patient care jumped from 13 percent in 2016 to 22 percent in 2019.

Within the next three years, the AMA contends that remote care tools have the highest likelihood of adoption.

“Awareness of most of the emerging technologies such as artificial or augmented intelligence is fairly high,” states the AMA’s research. While current adoption of these technologies is very low, the study concludes that “intentions to adopt these emerging technologies is quite high and aggressive timelines are planned.”

In fact, a third of physicians plan to adopt augmented intelligence within the next year, with doctors most interested in these emerging technologies to help them treat chronic care patients.

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