AMA teams up with biotech incubator to connect physicians with startups

A new online database gives startup entrepreneurs access to physicians' perspectives on where technology can be applied to fix real-world clinical problems. (Rostislav_Sedlacek/Getty)

Physicians have a lot to say about their frustrations with inefficient workflows and processes in their day-to-day work. 

Want proof? Just ask them about their EHRs.

And health technology entrepreneurs want to hear all about it, ideally early on in the product development process. So the American Medical Association recently started a partnership to foster those connections.

The AMA and Sling Health, a student-run biotechnology incubator, launched the clinical problem database on the AMA's Physician Innovation Network, an online forum that connects physicians and health technology companies looking for clinician feedback.

The project aims to give startup entrepreneurs access to physicians' perspectives on where technology can be applied to fix real-world problems to ensure new digital health technologies are addressing unmet needs in healthcare delivery.

Physicians are encouraged to submit real-world clinical challenges—processes or workflows in the clinic or hospital that are inefficient and time-consuming or a procedure or condition that could use the help of a device or software, as examples. If there are existing tools that need to be augmented or improved, physicians should sound off on those problems too, the organizations said.

RELATED: AMA joins IDEA Labs' efforts to boost healthcare innovation

“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,” Michael Tutty, Ph.D., group vice president of professional satisfaction and practice sustainability at the AMA, said in a statement. “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."

He added, "Gaining insights from physicians will help make medical technology an asset, not a burden.”

The best medical technologies directly tackle pressing clinical needs and enabling higher quality, less expensive and more efficient care, said Sling Health president Stephen Linderman.

The new project builds on AMA's existing collaboration with Sling Health, formerly IDEA Labs, which began in 2016. The organizations' prior initiatives focused on connecting health technology startups with talent, mentors, and investors at the AMA in the development of new digital health innovations.

RELATED: Primary care doctors spend more than 50% of workday on EHR tasks, American Medical Association study finds

“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. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with the AMA and enabling students everywhere to advance clinical care," Linderman said.

Too often, physicians are treated as an afterthought during technology development. Overlooking physician requirements is one reason medical technology may not live up to its promise.

An AMA study demonstrates that nearly half a physician’s office day is filled by clerical tasks performed on cumbersome technology. This burden has left physicians feeling they are neglecting their patients as they try to keep up with an overload of type-and-click tasks.

Since AMA's physician innovation network was launched in 2017, more than 3,000 physicians and medical students, as well as roughly 1,800 entrepreneurs, have participated in the online network, according to the AMA. It noted there are already examples of successful physician-entrepreneur connections.

Physicians matched with entrepreneurs through PIN have consulted in a range of areas, such as improving operating-room workflow and assisting to eliminate the guesswork for spinal punctures.