A new health care technology incubator in Chicago, called MATTER, will host about 65 start-up companies and the American Medical Association, which will have its own lab--the 450 square-foot AMA Interaction Studio.

The association hopes to tap into the start-ups to test new models of healthcare delivery in technology-enabled physician offices of the future, which may include telehealth, cloud computing, how physicians interact with the overall healthcare system, and other models that don’t fit traditional settings.

The start-ups have emerging ideas and products and the AMA can bring to them a reality test on the ground, says AMA CEO James Madara, M.D. The association wants to learn of the advances not only in technology but office designs, workflows, new services and even modular furniture.

Finding new ways to optimize physician-patient interactions and preventive care are among the goals, which will be more fully thought out over time as the AMA and start-ups learn from each other. The lab should be built by summer and until the AMA gets in the place, it’s difficult to predict what the early priority projects will be, Madara says.

However, background work already conducted with Rand Corp. makes it likely that AMA will be looking early for ways to optimize efficient extraction of organized data from health records systems and improve interoperability. That, according to Madara, could include bringing up clinical data in an organized manner with algorithms focusing on certain disease types on a single screen.

Other priorities could include regulatory and functional challenges as medicine moves from inpatient and outpatient settings to the home. For now, AMA is starting to talk with the startups and learn which ones are targeting complementary issues. “We need to know the waterfront of the areas being worked, and then focus on removing barriers to efficient workflows,” Madara says.

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