AMA launches collaborative data project
The American Medical Association is throwing its hat into the data and interoperability game with the launch of the Integrated Health Model Initiative, which will develop a framework for the industry to collect, organize and share health data.
"This collective effort will foster patient-care models that achieve better outcomes, as well as technical innovations to address poor interoperability," according to an AMA statement.
The project's aim to improve interoperability is similar to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's goals stemming from the 21st Century Cures Act. The law asks the ONC to implement standards and policies that promote the flow of information. The ONC already has its Interoperability Standards Advisory, and is forming the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, which will make recommendations on health IT infrastructure and getting data to move more effectively across the industry.
The AMA's initiative will complement the ONC's efforts, said Jeff Smith, vice president of public policy for the American Medical Informatics Association, one of the initiative's early participants.
"I anticipate we will work with agency officials to ensure Integrated Health Model Initiative efforts and ONC goals are mutually reinforcing," he said. For instance, the initiative will tap standards that the ONC references in its certification program, Smith said.
But the AMA's project is distinct. Virtual communities will play an important role in the Integrated Health Model Initiative, as both individual people in healthcare and organizations collaborate and provide feedback on particular areas starting with hypertension, diabetes and asthma, which are among the chronic illnesses the AMA says significantly affect the economy and society.
As the AMA gathers feedback from participants, it will explore a common data model, which it says could foster better data analytics and management. That, in turn, would lead to better patient outcomes and a reduced burden on physicians overwhelmed by data.
"We spend more than $3 trillion a year on healthcare in America and generate more health data than ever before," AMA CEO Dr. James Madara said in a statement. "Yet some of the most meaningful data—data to unlock potential improvements in patient outcomes—is fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete."
Some organizations have already signed on to collaborate on the project, including Cerner Corp., IBM, Intermountain Healthcare and the AMIA.
"This represents a bold attempt to advance an important aspect of interoperability," said Dr. David McCallie, Cerner's senior vice president for medical informatics, pointing to the importance of improving clinical data models' semantics.
Noticeably absent from the list of collaborators is Epic Systems Corp. But the EHR vendor said that's not for long. "We support the AMA's many initiatives to contribute to the improvement of care and look forward to joining this collaboration," said Dr. Chris Mast, Epic's vice president of clinical informatics.
The Integrated Health Model Initiative is the latest in the AMA's outreach efforts. At the end of 2016, the organization launched the Physician Innovation Network, which pairs physicians with companies looking for input in what amounts to a free networking site for providers and health technology companies.
An edited version of this story can also be found in Modern Healthcare's Oct. 23 print edition.
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