Promoting physician-led innovation at the AMA

This is a guest blog post written by James L. Madara, CEO of the American Medical Association.

Advancements in digital health are rapidly changing health care, allowing physicians to care for patients virtually anywhere at any time. While physicians surely recognize the tremendous potential in digital health, they are looking to professional associations like the American Medical Association to help them make sense of the constantly evolving medical landscape and ensure that these new clinical tools are efficient, actionable and connected.

Physicians play a critical role in this effort, leveraging their clinical expertise and deep medical knowledge to take part in the development of new digital technologies. Across the nation, physicians are working directly with innovators and entrepreneurs and are strengthening their relationships with the tech community. To support them in this pursuit, the AMA has created several opportunities for physicians to connect and work directly with innovators and entrepreneurs.

Why is it so important to have physicians at the ground level of innovation? A practicing internist in Cambridge, Mass., sought a new way for emergency responders to deliver vital information to the hospital so that doctors can respond more quickly when a patient arrives. This internist, YiDing Yu, MD, and her team developed a smartphone app, which they have called Twiage, to relay urgent care information to emergency physicians faster, easier and more powerfully than traditional radios.

Imagine two patients traveling by ambulance to the hospital at the same time – one with a broken arm and one suffering a heart attack. Twiage allows paramedics to send the necessary information so that hospitals can better prioritize patients’ treatment when minutes can mean life or death.

Twiage, which won the AMA’s Innovation Challenge event earlier this year and is garnering national attention, has aided in the transport of more than 10,000 patients since its launch one year ago.

Innovative ideas like this one are changing health care for the better. Twiage is an example of what happens when physicians collaborate with tech developers on simple solutions to improve patient care.

The AMA’s innovation ecosystem is home to many such partnerships and a variety of other initiatives that bring diverse experts together to improve physicians’ processes and therefore patient care and outcomes.

We have partnered with Chicago’s health technology incubator called MATTER, which is home to more than 120 start-ups and an Interaction studio space where entrepreneurs and physicians can collaborate and think creatively about digital solutions to common health care frustrations.

In San Francisco earlier this year, we opened an independent, for-profit development studio called Health2047, bringing together some of the top innovators in medicine, technology and science.

We also recently launched the AMA Physician Innovation Network, which is, like a digital matchmaking website: a place where physicians and entrepreneurs can connect online and collaborate to develop digital health care solutions.

At the AMA, we believe physician-led and physician-informed innovation will drive better products and services and, ultimately, enhance the practice of medicine and improve patient care. Central to this are the relationships between physicians and patients. Patients deserve –– and the marketplace should expect – that physicians have lent their clinical expertise in the development of new ideas and technologies so that they meet the high standards that drive quality care.

This is the best way to ensure that new technologies in medicine deliver on their tremendous promise – freeing up physicians to spend more time with their patients and improving both the quality of care they provide but also their own professional satisfaction.