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A New Way for Physicians to Voice Medical Technology Needs

Published on: Jan 9, 2020


Many people believe that instead of creating new burdensome tasks that serve as obstacles to patient care, technology can be used to address concerns physician practices face every day, reports senior news writer Andis Robeznieks. The new Clinical Problem Database is one example of this idea at work. However, some medical technology is not living up to its promise, and product developers failing to seek input from physicians—the end-users of these products—is one reason why. If physicians’ perspective is requested at all, it is often an afterthought.

The AMA is working to flip that construct, by getting physicians involved from the very start. As part of its effort to ensure that health care technology becomes an asset to medical practice and not a burden, the AMA is working with Sling Health to collaborate on finding solutions to real problems physicians face.

The database will contain the insights of practicing physicians about improvements that are needed to boost clinical efficiency and improve patient care. These real-world experiences will be shared with the young entrepreneurs in Sling Health’s student-run biotechnology incubator to resolve unmet needs in health care delivery.

“Physicians and entrepreneurs are passionate about transforming health care, and by engaging collaboratively they can advance innovation that makes the health system work better for everyone,” said Michael A. Tutty, PhD, AMA group vice president of professional satisfaction and practice sustainability. “Through our collaboration with Sling Health, the AMA is helping physicians and medical students take on a greater role in driving technology forward that responds to real clinical needs.”

Sling Health President Stephen W. Linderman agreed. “The best medical technologies directly tackle pressing clinical needs,” Linderman said. “Working with the physicians nationally through the AMA, teams of innovative students across the country are able to create new medical technology to address problems impacting providers on the front lines of patient care.”

Matching physicians and entrepreneurs

The database will be housed by the AMA Physician Innovation Network (PIN), an online community that connects and matches physicians with digital health companies and entrepreneurs.

The database launch was announced by Stacy Lloyd, AMA digital health programs manager, during Sling Health’s recent Demo Day event at Washington University in St. Louis.

Lloyd characterized PIN as “ meets LinkedIn for health tech companies, entrepreneurs and physicians,” and she described how the database will help “get rid of the noise” in the health technology industry by pointing innovators’ attention to real problems that physicians identify.

The database allows physicians to submit problems for people to work on. There is a problem list where entrepreneurs can look for problem-solving opportunities. Visitors can also vote on problems they think should be prioritized. They can see if the problems they are interested in are being worked on and decide whether they want to join the effort.

Entrepreneurs already working on posted problems can share their company information. Other entrepreneurs, venture capitalists or product incubators can use the database to gain insight on “solution gaps” to better inform investment decisions. Physicians and care teams are also able to share tools or solutions that they’ve used in their own practices to address the problems submitted to the database.

“The AMA is committed to supporting health care innovation from concept to clinical integration and ensuring that the physician voice is included in new solutions and products coming to market,” Lloyd said.

Students solving problems

Sling Health was founded in 2013 at Washington University and has since helped form 25 startup companies that have raised $6 million in investments or awards, created 40 product prototypes to demonstrate proof of concept and been awarded 25 provisional patents.

The Demo Day event was an example of the students’ problem-solving entrepreneurship in action. Eight finalists were chosen from 20 teams to present their ideas.

The top $5,000 prize was awarded to InnoHealth Diagnostics, a company founded by Florida State University students and recent graduates. The company is working on an inexpensive home device that would use DNA-amplification technology for early detection of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis. The device, which they hope to mass produce at a cost of between 6 and 33 cents a unit, would replace time-consuming detection processes that require laboratory equipment.

InnoHealth co-founder Angela Udongwo presented a three-year plan to test and distribute the product in Nigeria’s Kano State, where 4.7 million people are infected or at risk of infection by the parasite that causes the disease.

To learn more about Health IT Incubators and Innovations see the AMA Digital Resources.