AMA launches Digital Health Implementation Playbook

The new playbook will include a step-by-step approach to implementing digital health tools, as well as best practices and other resources.
By Laura Lovett
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This morning the American Medical Association launched the Digital Health Implementation Playbook, a guide that spells out the steps for developing a digital health technology and best practices. The tool, which can be accessed online, also gives resources and an achieve of digital health adoptions. 

“This is a step-by-step guide for all of the things you need to consider before you get to implementing a solution,” Michael Hodgkins, chief medical information officer at AMA, told MobiHealthNews.

“What we see in the marketplace is a lot of dead ends. It isn’t because the tool wasn’t necessarily a good tool, but it fell apart somewhere in the process of getting implemented because there weren't the right advocates for it, or it didn’t really start with a clear idea of what they were trying to solve. [This] takes them through the steps necessary to successfully implement it, and then get beyond that initial phase of implementation. So we see a lot of pilots, but not a lot of scaled solutions in the marketplace."

According to Hodgkins, the playbook is a culmination of input from more than 80 physicians, technologists, patients and practice administrators. The resource includes a 12-step process to developing and implementing digital health tools. Half of those steps focus on the implementation of a digital health tool, and the other six focus on considerations for specific technologies, according to the AMA statement. These steps include everything from making a case for your product right through to scaling. 

In addition to the playbook, the AMA will also be offer online coaching. When a user accesses the the playbook online they will be asked their email and automatically enrolled in a coaching series that will walk the user through the steps, according to Hodgkin. 

Why it matters

There are now thousands of digital health products on the market, but it can be difficult for providers to figure out which products are valid and meet their clinical needs and standards. The playbook was designed to help developers understand clincial standards and to help providers navigate the digital health waters. 

“So the playbook is just one element in this journey of how do you increase confidence that a solution meets the requirements that a physician has for patient care,” Hodgkins said. “It addresses that security, that design, the clinical content and evidence and how you, in a coherent fashion, go through a process to implementation.”

What's the trend

The AMA has been increasing its involvement in digital health. Recently the society launched the Physician Innovation Network platform, a tool designed to help entrepreneurs and physicians to connect in several different ways. The platform is designed to let users connect and share their ideas and struggles. 

Additionally, in 2016 the AMA launched Xcertia, a standards body for mobile apps. 

“Think of the playbook as another step of the journey we have been on for the last couple of years and that journey has included the Physician Innovation Network. … We thought one of the things that was fundamentally missing from these new innovative tools was the physician's voice, and for that matter the patient's voice,” Hodgkins said. “Two years ago we established a nonprofit called Xcertia. And Xcertia has been developing guidelines to address best practices. ... Now the playbook is the next step on the journey. It is wonderful to have good tools but if you can’t figure out how to use them in practice, then who cares, right?”

On the record 

"Implementing digital health technology has been a challenge for those without a clear course to success," Dr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, AMA chair elect, said in a statement. "The AMA is committed to making technology an asset, not a burden, and the Playbook provides the medical community with widespread access to a proven path for implementing digitally enabled health and care. The Playbook’s roadmap is based on institutional knowledge and best practices convened by the AMA from a wide array of experts in the field."