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AMAGINE? Another reason docs don’t trust the AMA

Posted on June 2, 2011 I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

Katherine Rourke provided good food for thought in her expose of the likely politically-driven AMAGINE database.  Apparently, the AMA has contracted experts who will analyze a doctor’s practice and make a careful selection of the EMR vendor right for them.  However, the selection seems fairly limited to those EMR vendors who appear to have a special relationship with the AMA — cough, cough, paid advertising, cough, cough.  Under each section of the AMAGINE website, there are about three choices for each type of software one could possibly desire (EMR, e-prescribing, patient reporting and registries, etc).  This obviously is not the 300+ vendors out there, so one scratches their head at why these vendors and not the others.

The AMA has long been eschewed by many doctors who find it appearing to be a bloated political action committee that has lost touch with what doctors really want… someone pushing for issues that could benefit the majority of practicing doctors.  Its membership dues seem to go up every year, and this year, for me, would have been $415.  For that amount of money, I need to realize some benefit to membership besides a nice magazine, which is usually what appears to be the only benefit I actually find myself using.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

AMA’s Health IT Portal: Will Doctors Bite?

Posted on May 27, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

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?