February 14, 2020  | Updated: May 13, 2020

Category: Healthcare Technology, Physicians

IN A NUTSHELL:

  • Research examined seven categories of digital health tools
  • Interest for use is highest with chronic care patients

The integration of digital health tools has grown significantly among all physicians in recent years. A new report by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows more physicians than ever recognize digital health tools as an advantage to deliver improved efficiency and safety in health care.

For the first time, the AMA research surveyed physicians about their awareness and current usage of emerging technologies, such as augmented intelligence, blockchain and precision medicine. The study found that the interest for using such mechanisms is highest with chronic care patients.

The research examined seven categories of digital health tools that engage patients, interpret and utilize clinical data, and manage outcomes of care quality:

1. Tele-medicine/virtual visits: This category includes audio/video connections used to see patients remotely. Physician usage of virtual visits doubled from 14 percent in 2016 to 28 percent in 2019. The increase is the largest growth among the digital health tools in the study.

2. Remote monitoring/management for improved care: Tools within this group include mobile apps and devices for use by chronic disease patients to measure various vital signs. Readings are visible to patients, sent to the physician’s office, and alerts are automatically generated when needed. Physician embracement of this tool increased from 13 percent in 2016 to 22 percent in 2019.

3. Remote monitoring for efficiency: This tool is considered to be smart versions of common devices such as body temperature readings, blood pressure monitoring, and weight monitoring that automatically enter readings into the patient’s medical record. Physicians adopting the usage of this tool increased slightly from 12 percent in 2016 to 16 percent in 2019.

4. Clinical decision support: Devices within this class are used in conjunction with electronic health records (EHR) or mobile applications integrated with an EHR. The goal is to highlight potentially significant changes in patient health records, such as changes in weight, blood levels, and more. Physician adoption rose from 28 percent in 2016 to 37 percent in 2019.

5. Patient engagement: This category includes solutions to improve patient wellbeing and participating in their care for chronic diseases. Physician adoption rose from 26 percent in 2016 to 32 percent in 2019.

6. Workflow enhancement: – This is defined as any type of communication and sharing of electronic clinical data in order to consult with specialists, make referrals and transition the care of patients. Physicians incorporating this tool increased from 42 percent in 2016 to 47 percent in 2019.

7. Consumer access to clinical data: The category includes tools that provide secure access allowing patients to view clinical information, receive appointment reminders and treatment prompts, and the ability to request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and to communicate with their physician. Physician adoption in this category increased from 53 percent in 2016 to 58 percent in 2019.

The research also shows that liability coverage remains a crucial requirement for physicians incorporating digital health tools into their practice and has increased in importance during the course of the study.

Information from: American Medical Association

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