AMA survey: Doctors more optimistic about digital health tools

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More physicians feel digital health tools are an advantage for patient care, according to a survey by the American Medical Association

The AMA surveyed 1,300 doctors in 2016, 2019 and 2022 to determine their feelings about digital health and how they’re adopting these technologies in their practices. 

This year 44% said there was a definite advantage in using digital health for patient care, compared with 36% in 2019 and 31% in 2016. Overall, 93% of physicians surveyed felt there was some advantage or a definite advantage to leveraging digital health tools in 2022, compared with 85% in 2016. 

“The physician adoption rate of digital health tools has accelerated as physicians grow increasingly optimistic about the advantages that properly designed digital health tools can have for patient care if key requirements are met,” AMA president Dr. Jack Resneck Jr. said in a statement.

“The AMA survey illustrates the importance physicians place on validated digital health tools that improve health while streamlining the technological and administrative burdens faced each day in medicine. These technologies also must be designed and deployed in ways that advance health equity.”

The survey also found that physicians are adopting more tools: The average number in use by a physician grew to 3.8 in 2022, compared with 2.2 in 2016. The biggest change in adoption came from virtual care. The percentage using telehealth visits grew from 14% in 2016 to 28% in 2019, and then exploded to 80% in 2022. 

Meanwhile, 30% of physicians said they used remote monitoring devices for efficiency, compared with 12% in 2016. And 34% said they used remote monitoring and management for improved care this year, while only 13% did in 2016.

The AMA survey found improving clinical outcomes and work efficiency were the leading factors affecting physicians’ interest in digital health tools. Reducing stress and clinician burnout also grew in importance over the past few years. In 2022, 76% said easing stress and burnout were somewhat or very important reasons to adopt digital health tools, while only 66% cited those factors in 2016.

When it comes to adopting these tools, 85% of physicians reported that coverage by malpractice insurance and EHR integration were somewhat or very important factors in 2022.

Though current use of emerging technologies is still low, physicians reported interest in adopting these tools. The survey found 18% of physicians reported using augmented intelligence for practice efficiency, but 39% said they would adopt it within a year.

Only 11% reported currently using precision medicine and digital therapeutics. However, 30% said they would add precision medicine, and 40% said they would use digital therapeutics within a year. 

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