Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPh, FAMIA, FASA, FCPP, the president of the American Medical Association (AMA), recently addressed the issue of digital health trends during the AIMed 2023 World Summit. He highlighted the importance of physicians being actively involved in the development of new technologies in medicine and discussed ways in which the AMA is working towards this goal.
Dr. Ehrenfeld emphasized that he understands the potential of new digital tools as a practicing anesthesiologist who sees patients regularly. He stressed that doctors want to address health disparities and optimize workflows, which can be achieved through the adoption of digital health tools. According to recent surveys conducted by the AMA, adoption of these tools has been accelerating among all doctors regardless of age, sex, or specialty.
However, Dr. Ehrenfeld also warned against the negative impact technology can have if not implemented properly. He cited electronic health records (EHRs) as a cautionary tale. While EHRs were created with good intentions, they were largely developed without direct input from doctors and their implementation was clumsy in many places. This resulted in EHRs not reaching their full potential.
Dr. Ehrenfeld believes that we are at a critical moment when it comes to the development and deployment of new digital tools and AI-enabled technologies. There are concerns about liability and trust in these tools among both doctors and patients. It is crucial for developers, innovators, doctors, regulators, and users to work together to ensure that these tools deliver on their promises while maintaining public trust.
During his presentation at the AIMed Summit, Dr. Ehrenfeld discussed what doctors need from digital health technologies:
1. Does it work?
2. Will insurance cover its use?
3. Who is responsible if something goes wrong?
4. Does this really work in my practice?
He also emphasized the importance of addressing biases and equity issues in machine learning data sets and tools. The AMA is working towards developing standards, ethical principles, and providing information to doctors to ensure that AI remains augmented intelligence and that the human element is always at the center of patient care.
Dr. Ehrenfeld also touched upon the uncertainties surrounding AI in healthcare, including the need for standards and regulations. He mentioned collaborative efforts such as the implementation of ISO 14971 and joint guidance documents by AAMI and BSI on risk management for machine learning and AI tools embedded in medical devices.
The assumption, Dr. Ehrenfeld highlighted the benefits that AI can bring to healthcare but also acknowledged the potential risks. It is crucial to manage these risks effectively while ensuring patient safety and improving outcomes. The AMA is actively involved in these discussions and works towards creating a regulatory framework that addresses emerging risks associated with AI technologies.
Evidently, Dr. Ehrenfeld’s speech at the AIMed Summit emphasized the importance of physician involvement in digital health technology development, addressing biases and equity issues, managing risks associated with AI, and maintaining public trust in these tools.