Californian Paul Tang, M.D., will ride a cresting wave of healthcare information technology for the next three years as chairman-elect and chairman of the American Medical Informatics Association.
Tang, a specialist in internal medicine and the chief medical informatics officer at the 600-physician Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation, was elected to the position at the general membership meeting of the organization earlier this month in Boston.
"I think it's very exciting because of the (Bush) administration's commitment and because of Congress' commitment" to IT, said Tang, who sees AMIA bringing the clinicians' perspective to the national discussion on the role of healthcare IT in medicine. "I think there is a role for organizations like AMIA to contribute their expertise."
"For physicians in particular, they have to find a way to make this all affordable," Tang said.
Formed in 1990 with the merger of three informatics organizations, AMIA now claims 3,200 members, including physicians, nurses, computer and information scientists, biomedical engineers, medical librarians, academic researchers and educators.
Starting Jan. 1, Tang will begin a one-year term as chairman-elect, after which he will serve a two-year term as board chairman, succeeding current office holder Charles Safran, M.D., chief executive officer of Clinician Support Technology, Newton, Mass.
Tang said the affordability issue has two parts.
"One is the access to capital for initial investment," Tang said. "And there is a need for ongoing support. That's where the rationale for pay-for-performance comes in."
Tang said the 300-doctor Palo Alto-based division of his physician group has been using an electronic medical record from Epic Systems Corp. since 2002. The system includes secure e-mail communication capabilities between physician and patients. The group is moving forward with a plan next month to test online visits, Tang said.
Others elected to the AMIA board are David Bates, M.D., chief of general medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and medical director of the clinical and quality analysis group at Partners HealthCare System, Boston; James Cimino, M.D., professor of biomedical informatics and medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York; and Kevin Johnson, M.D. associate professor and vice chairman of biomedical informatics and associate professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.