Recently, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new set of principles that will guide its advocacy for coverage, payment, and financial incentives to support “the use of mHealth apps and associated devices, trackers and sensors by patients, physicians” (see AMA Adopts Principles to Promote Safe, Effective mHealth Applications). AMA Immediate Past President Steven J. Stack, M.D. said the purpose of these new guidelines is:
…to foster the integration of digital health innovations into clinical practice by promoting coverage and payment policies that are contingent upon whether mHealth apps and related devices are evidence-based, validated, interoperable and actionable. It is essential for mHealth apps support care delivery that is patient-centered, promotes care coordination and facilitates team-based communication….
These are the seven AMA principles:
- Support the establishment or continuation of a valid patient-physician relationship
- Have a clinical evidence base to support their use in order to ensure mHealth app safety and effectiveness
- Follow evidence-based practice guidelines, to the degree they are available, to ensure patient safety, quality of care and positive health outcomes
- Support care delivery that is patient-centered, promotes care coordination and facilitates team-based communication
- Support data portability and interoperability in order to promote care coordination through medical home and accountable care models
- Abide by state licensure laws and state medical practice laws and requirements in the state in which the patient receives services facilitated by the app
- Require that physicians and other health practitioners delivering services through the app be licensed in the state where the patient receives services, or be providing these services as otherwise authorized by that state’s medical board
- Ensure that the delivery of any services via the app be consistent with state scope of practice laws
These new principles from the AMA add to the overall confusion of how to select treatment technology. With current estimates at 17,000 health applications in major app stores and 43% of those designed primarily for health care professionals (see The mHealth App Developer Economics 2016), the need to shrink the gap between our digital capabilities and our digital understanding remains as great as ever.
In recent years, we’ve covered the discussion about the “validity and reliability” of digital health tech – More Than 3,000 Mental Health Apps Available For Download, Limited Number With Evidence Of Efficacy and So Many Apps! Which Are Effective?; as well as the slow moving development of guidelines for health care apps — Is There Any Regulation Of Health Care Apps?. And, we’ve looked at the current “best practices” in selecting treatment technology – Consumer Health Tech: If You Build It, Will They Come?, Planning Your Treatment Tech Investment and The Problems With Bringing Apps To The Consumer Experience? The Volume, The Evidence & The Model.
What do the AMA principles mean for organizations serving consumers with complex needs? I think the main takeaway is that when the nation’s largest health care trade association (and the organization that is the third-highest spender on government relations – AMA spent over $347 million between 1998 and 2016, see Lobbying Client Top Spenders) decides to push for greater patient-centered, evidence-based, interoperable, and outcomes-focused tech, the future of health care will include just that.
For an “in the field perspective” I reached out to OPEN MINDS senior associate Sharon Hicks who explained that provider organizations can’t wait for these developments, but must prepare now. She writes:
While the fact that the AMA has published this list makes it more likely that these principles will be used in crafting the mHealth national agenda, this does not mean that we can sit back and wait. That means that managers in specialty provider organizations, especially those serving consumers with high needs, need to become effective advocates. The mHealth agenda can’t just be set around the constructs of physicians and the physical health service delivery system but instead must push for the use of technology that serves the needs of populations with chronic conditions and more complex support needs – and respects the way that consumers in those markets want tech-enabled services delivered. This includes, but is not limited to, smartphone access, secure communication models, client-driven data sharing permissions, and social support enhancement.
For more, check out our coverage of digital health issues in the service of complex consumer populations:
- The Future Of Care Coordination? It’s Elementary, Watson
- Fitting ‘Invisibles’ Into Your Tech Planning
- Disrupt Your Own Business Before Someone Else Does
- The Changing ‘Front Door’ For Health & Human Service Access
- The Future Of Health Care Technology: A Town Hall Discussion With Digital Health Executives
- The Future Of Treatment Tech Is Blended
- Adding Technology To Improve Medication Adherence
- People Diagnosed With Schizophrenia Use Digital Technology At Same Rate As General Population
- 53% Of Consumers Report They Cannot Access Their EHR Data Online
- When It Comes To Digital Health Tools, What Do Consumers Want?
And, check out our great interview with Craig Rhinehart, Director, IBM Watson Health Innovation and Market Development, IBM Watson Health for his thoughts on the future of health care technology. For even more on the impact of tech on the health and human services field, join me on February 16 at The OPEN MINDS Performance Management Institute for the session, “Technology & Reporting Requirements For Population Health Management: Preparing For Value-Based Reimbursement” featuring Ken Carr, Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS and John M. Sheehan, President & CEO, Harbor Behavioral Health.