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AMA President: “We’re Fighting to Prevent Information Blocking”

November 13, 2017
by Rajiv Leventhal
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In his address at the American Medical Association (AMA) Interim Meeting this weekend, AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D., said that his association is fighting to prevent data blocking, and to improve the usability of EHRs (electronic health records), mobile devices and interoperability.

According to an AMA release, Dr. Barbe’s address in Hawaii “recapped an aggressive year of advocacy and accomplishment, highlighting significant victories that protected patients and physicians, with the primary goal of improving the health of the nation.” Barbe specifically touted significant victories in the regulatory realm, including helping physicians avoid penalties under the new Medicare payment program if they report one quality measure on one patient for one year; and significant efforts to improve physician satisfaction.

He said, “We are fighting to prevent IT vendors from blocking information or making it expensive for physicians to share data, and we are making progress. We are fighting physician burnout and the time crunch by working to improve EHRs, mobile devices, and interoperability, and again, those efforts are showing signs of success. Our work to improve physician satisfaction by reducing these headaches and making the practice environment more satisfying is at the heart of the AMA’s shared strategic vision, as we: provide practice and payment resources; foster lifelong professional development, and improve the health of the nation.”

In a recent interview with Healthcare Informatics Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland, Barbe discussed the issue of physician burnout at length. He said, “Physicians are overwhelmed, they’re asked to collect data, they’re given tools that don’t do it, and our studies—the first one we did last fall that shows that physicians are doing twice as much time doing data entry and paperwork as in direct clinical time with patients. We just came out with a second study that says the same thing. That is very demoralizing to physicians; we didn’t train to be data entry clerks, we trained to be clinicians; that’s very demoralizing.”

Interestingly, according to the AMA release, in his address Barbe also highlighted the AMA’s successful work to prevent the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana insurance mega-mergers.

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