No news is good news from AMA


I used to go to the American Medical Association's annual House of Delegates meeting shaking my head at just how far behind physicians are when it comes to adopting information technology. That much seemed clear by the small number of resolutions under consideration that touched on IT.

Then I realized that the vast majority of resolutions on the agenda are directed at righting some perceived wrong. The specter of Medicare fee cuts is perennially stuck in the craw of the nation's largest physician organization. Other hot topics in recent years have included resident work hours, direct-to-consumer pharma advertising, reducing the obesity epidemic and, of course, fighting Big Tobacco. (Clearly, the AMA is thrilled with the most recent development in the tobacco wars, giving the FDA the right to regulate cigarettes.)

At this year's meeting, which wraps up Wednesday in Chicago, there were more resolutions than ever dealing with electronic medical records, thanks to the passage of the economic stimulus legislation. Most of the proposals were critical of some aspect of the plan, and some might be reflective of a crackpot minority of AMA delegates, who, themselves, are an ever-shrinking minority of practicing physicians. (I'll have more on that Thursday in FierceEMR.)

One thing that struck me, though, was the number of resolutions related to mobile healthcare: Zero. And yet, I saw just as many smartphones as I would at any strictly IT conference. That suggests to me that physicians aren't all Luddites. It also suggests that AMA delegates are just fine with many of the mobile technologies out there. I'm not sure this signals a breakthrough for mobile healthcare. It could indeed mean that doctors love mobile devices and mobile applications, or it may just be an indication that such things aren't quite ready for prime time. In either case, though, what's not said by the AMA about mobile IT is an encouraging sign. - Neil

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