AMA launches collaborative data project
Another healthcare behemoth is venturing into the murky waters of data analytics and interoperability.
The American Medical Association last week launched the Integrated Health Model Initiative, with the goal of developing 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.
Already, several big names have joined the initiative, including Cerner Corp., IBM, Intermountain Healthcare and the American Medical Informatics Association.
“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.
And while absent from the inaugural class of participants, health IT giant Epic Systems Corp. may sign on soon. “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.
In 2016, Epic got involved in another industrywide collaborative, Commonwell, through the group’s work with Carequality, of which Epic is a member. The two groups are work-
As the AMA gathers feedback from participants, it will explore a common data model, which it says could foster better data analytics and management.
ing together on interoperability projects, including record location.
The AMA’s initiative will complement efforts underway at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which is mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act to improve information sharing across the industry. 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 how to get data to move more effectively across the industry.
“I anticipate we will work with agency officials to ensure Integrated Health Model Initiative efforts and ONC goals are mutually reinforcing,” said Jeff Smith, vice president of public policy for AMIA. For instance, the initiative will tap standards that the ONC references in its certification program, Smith said.
The ONC, for its part, is just beginning to go over the AMA’s framework, said an ONC spokesperson. “We are pleased to see private industry efforts to improve interoperability, including proposals that explore the types and uses of health data.”
In the case of the Integrated Health Model Initiative, those efforts include virtual communities, which will allow both individual people and organizations to collaborate and provide feedback on particular areas, starting with hypertension, diabetes and asthma, which are among the chronic illnesses that the AMA says are most costly to society and the economy.
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.”
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.