AMA's Robert Wah: Doctors need more from Meaningful Use

It's an exciting time for healthcare, and technology is the key to better care, but there's still work to do, Robert Wah, president of the American Medical Association, told Fortune in an interview.

Analytics are an example of one way technology is improving care, according to Wah. They can create patterns that professionals never considered before.

"In retail, analytics is being used to predict consumer behavior," he said. "If we were able to move that into healthcare, we could take much better care of patients."

One barrier to technology adoption that concerns the AMA is the lack of partial credit for complying to Meaningful Use, Wah said. There are penalties for not being 100 percent converted to electronic health records via the federal government's Meaningful Use criteria, he said, and the AMA is looking for more flexibility from the government on that.

One of the highest sources of dissatisfaction with doctors is electronic records, he added.

To make such tools more useable, Wah said, there needs to be data liquidity so information can flow between systems. More customization also is necessary, such as the ability to add features and functions without replacing a whole system, he said.

"We want to be sure that technology helps us get better care for patients. We also want to be sure that it's part of the workflow, rather than getting in the way," he said.

AMA recently created a blueprint to refocus and revamp the entire Meaningful Use program. In a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, AMA executive vice president and CEO James Madara wrote that the program is increasing costs and burdens on physicians.

To learn more:
- read the Fortune interview