AMA’s Health IT Portal: Will Doctors Bite?

Last month, the AMA announced that it was launching a health IT portal for doctors.  The AMAGINE platform includes a fairly robust range of products, including three EMRs, and its price range seems pretty reasonable. Still, I’m somewhat skeptical it will be popular. Lest I be accused of being arbitrary, let me explain.

On the surface, the idea or and product line sound great. In addition to the EMRs, the lineup includes e-prescribing, claims management and clinical support systems as well as reference tools. Vendors involved include Allscripts, CareTracker, Quest Care360, NextGen and DocSite.

Subscriptions to the surface range from $20 per month for e-prescribing to $300 per month for the EMR options, numbers that aren’t likely to send most practices into shock.

Not only that, the AMA seems to have preliminary evidence that this approach works. The trade group pilot-tested the AMAGINE on Michigan doctors for about two years prior to going national, and has to assume that the physician association would have pulled the plug if the pilot went badly.

All that being said, I’m still pretty skeptical that the approach will work, for reasons including the following:

* Despite its being the best-known and largest physician group in the U.S., the AMA doesn’t have a great reputation with up-and-coming young physicians who are first to adopt health IT

* It may sound counterintuitive, but I don’t think doctors want the AMA or anyone else to narrow down their EMR choices. Given the stakes involved, my sense is that physicians want to do a lot of exploring before they commit their lives and workflow to a new system.

* While a best-of-breed portal approach may actually be a good idea, I have a gut feeling that it might actually overwhelm or confuse some physicians. (If it were me, I’d be thinking “One decision at a time please!”)

* Say what you like about vendor technical support, but I bet any decent player would offer better technical support, education and training than an AMA venture.

So, what do you think? Am I off base here, or is AMAGINE going to face an uphill battle?