AMA taps technology companies, providers in a new initiative to reorganize fragmented health data

The American Medical Association has launched a new initiative to reorganize fragmented health data, and it has already recruited some notable partners.

AMA announced the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI) on Monday, aimed at bringing together providers and technology companies to collaborate on a common framework for organizing health data. Intermountain Healthcare, Cerner, IBM, the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians are among the early collaborators in the new initiative.

By building a common data-sharing structure, IHMI plans to improve the way health data is collected, organized and exchanged, and re-engineer health record data so it's easily extractable. Initially, the AMA-led initiative will prioritize data associated with hypertension, diabetes and asthma to create a “rich stream of accessible and actionable information,” AMA CEO James Madara, M.D., said in a statement.

“We spend more than three trillion dollars a year on health care in America and generate more health data than ever before,” he added. “Yet some of the most meaningful data—data to unlock potential improvements in patient outcomes—is fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete.”

RELATED: Less than one-third of hospitals are fully interoperable and even fewer use outside data

A recent Health Affairs study quantified that struggle, showing less than 30% of health system EHRs are fully interoperable and less than 20% actually use data transferred from another provider.

In a video posted by AMA, Senior Vice President of Health Solutions Laurie McGraw said the initiative will build on existing data-sharing structures like SNOMED and RxNorm, but fill in “things that are critical from a patient perceptive” like patient goals, functionality and wellness. 

She added that IHMI is "physician-led initiative, but not a physician-exclusive initiative," and the group expects a broad range of stakeholder participation including informatics, data companies and clinicians from any specialty.


Monday’s announcement builds on AMA's growing focus on data integration, analytics and mobile devices. In August, the AMA joined the Human Diagnosis Project, which combines collective intelligence and natural language processing to assist physicians with diagnoses.  

The AMA has also urged CMS to waive telehealth restrictions and pushed doctors to get more involved with mHealth app development.