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AMA to partner with Cerner, IBM on health data model initiative

by Thomas Dworetzky , Contributing Reporter
The American Medical Association has announced a collaborative initiative with health data technology leaders, including Cerner and IBM, to bring order to the often chaotic realm of patient and health data.

Called the Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI), the platform will enable the creation of the “common data model that is missing in health care,” advised the organization in a statement.

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“We spend more than three trillion dollars a year on health care in America and generate more health data than ever before. Yet some of the most meaningful data – data to unlock potential improvements in patient outcomes – is fragmented, inaccessible or incomplete,” said AMA CEO Dr. James L. Madara, “The collaborative effort of IHMI will help the health system learn how to collect, organize, and exchange patient-centered data in a common structure that captures what is most important for improving care and long-term wellness, and transform the data into a rich stream of accessible and actionable information.”

All health care and technology players will be encouraged to take part on shaping this shared framework for data. Besides Cerner and IBM, present participants include Intermountain Healthcare, the American Heart Association, and the American Medical Informatics Association.

The project could radically alter the way that professionals approach the sharing of medical knowledge.

“I am excited about IHMI because it builds on the foundation of interoperability standards that are being created by HL7, LOINC, and SNOMED International,” noted Dr. Stan Huff, chief medical informatics officer, Intermountain Healthcare, adding that, “if we persist, that approach will lead to the ability to exchange medical knowledge as executable software rather than as journal articles. If we can do it, it will be a historic evolutionary step for medicine.”

First steps for IHMI include a focus on chronic ailments, including hypertension, diabetes and asthma, as these have the greatest economic and societal impact.

The project could be transformational for those with hypertension and related problems. For example, noted Meighan Girgus, chief marketing and programs officer of the American Heart Association, “one of our primary goals is to continue to develop a patient-centered approach to heart and stroke care. This new collaboration will ensure that patients receive the best care throughout their journey by providing a holistic view of a patient’s health data to health care providers along the way. By sharing data, we not only create a better experience for the patient, but, ultimately, better outcomes – more lives saved and an improved quality of life.”

Moving forward with IHMI, the AMA plans now include:

  • Hosting clinical and issue-based communities focused on hypertension, diabetes and asthma to identify best science and practices defining patient-centric care

  • Offering a clinical validation process to determine and apply appropriate clinical frameworks

  • Defining the best way to encode information in the IHMI data model

“IHMI is the latest development in the AMA’s ongoing work to build bridges with health technology leaders and bring the physician voice into the innovation space,” stressed AMA Senior Vice President of Health Solutions Laurie McGraw.

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