New AMIA President Fridsma to AMDIS: 'I plan on doing a lot of listening'

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 - Doug Fridsma, ONC
Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD, Director of the Office of Standards and Interoperability at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
Source: Department of the Health and Human Services

BOSTON—Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD, chief scientist in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and soon-to-be president and CEO of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) stopped by the AMDIS Fall Symposium last week to tell attendees he plans to do a lot of listening in his new job, “because I think that’s the most important thing I can do right now.

"I think it’s going to be really important when we think about AMIA and we think about AMDIS and we think about how we can create some synergies understanding the value proposition—understanding what people need and being able to articulate that,” he said. “I’m not going to learn that if I just talk.”

In response to a question from AMDIS President William Bria, MD, about Meaningful Use, Fridsma said he was excited about taking on the position at AMIA because there “is a lot that we’ve learned in the process.

“If you take a look at our workforce development and the curriculum we have to support implementation, one of the things we’ve missed that we realize was important, is change management,” he said. “If you have technical skills and don’t have change management, you can have good technology badly implemented.”

Fridsma went on to say that the chance to work at AMIA has given him the opportunity to “go back to my informatics roots” and to people who are really “engaged and interested in biomedical informatics.”

Fridsma also had a chance to address the issue of patient engagement and health IT, which was a key topic during the two-day AMDIS meeting. In doing so he went back in history, pointing out that the medical literature in the period between 1906 and 1912 dealt with a new technology—the automobile—that was impacting healthcare and questioned how the healthcare industry could incorporate it.

“So between 1906 and 1912 there is this whole series of articles about the physician’s automobile,” he said. “And they talked about how physicians should get a car, and whether it should be steam or gas, and whether it should have hard tires or soft tires. There was this whole set of value propositions, and what was the return on investment.

“Is this sounding familiar?” he asked the attendees.

At the same time something else happened that changed the conversation—Henry Ford developed the Model T. It was no longer the physician’s automobile, Fridsma said, but was now available to the masses and this ended up helping to transform the delivery of healthcare.

“Now you [the physician] could have an office, and do radiology and do testing,” Fridsma said. “All sorts of things you didn’t have to carry in your little black bag. We’re at that point [today] in which we still have that conversation about the physician’s EHR or the physician’s health information technology. And I think some somebody needs to invent the equivalent of the Model T.”

“I’m mindful as we have these conversations that success in this area will no longer be when it’s about the physician, but about the broader population,” he said.