Physicians have been using more digital health tools since 2016, according to the American Medical Association, which first benchmarked the transformation at that time. According to continued research, the AMA reports that more physicians than ever say they understand the benefits of digital health tools for driving improved efficiency and safety at the point of care.

AMA Digital Health Research regularly reports on the shifts in adoption of digital health tools, as well as assessing attitudes and expectations among physicians.

Through its research, the AMA reviews seven categories of solutions for clinical purposes, interpreting and using clinical data, managing outcomes, and other measures of care quality.

Accordingly, adoption trends in these areas help propel the digital transformation of healthcare.

“The rise of the digital-native physician will have a profound impact on health care and patient outcomes, and will place digital health technologies under pressure to perform according to higher expectations,” said AMA board chair Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH.

As reported through the survey, the AMA points out specific insights, including the following:

Telehealth and virtual care: Physician adoption doubled from 14% in 2016 to 28% in 2019, the most significant growth among the digital health tool categories.

Remote patient monitoring: Physician adoption jumped from 13% in 2016 to 22% in 2019, including mobile apps and devices for use by chronic disease patients for measurement of vital signs, including weight, blood pressure, and blood glucose.

Remote monitoring for efficiency: Physician adoption grew from 12% in 2016 to 16% in 2019, including smart versions of conventional clinical devices, including thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, and scales, that automate readings in the patient medical record.

Clinical decision support: Physician adoption climbed from 28% in 2016 to 37% in 2019, including modules used in conjunction with the EHR or mobile applications integrated with an EHR.

Patient engagement: Physician adoption rose from 26% in 2016 to 32% in 2019, including solutions to promote patient wellness and active participation in their care for chronic diseases, such as treatment regimens.

Point of care/workflow enhancement: Physician adoption modestly increased from 42% in 2016 to 47% in 2019, including communication and sharing of electronic clinical data to consult with specialists, make referrals, and transitions of care.

Consumer access to clinical data: Physician adoption rose from 53% in 2016 to 58% in 2019, the highest adoption rate among the digital health tool categories.

While all digital health tools have seen increases in physician adoption since 2016, the most significant growth in adoption was among digital tools in the categories of televisits/virtual visits and remote monitoring for improved patient care.

According to the AMA, greater efficiency and improved patient safety are the most critical factors driving physician interest in digital health tools. Addressing patient adherence, convenience, and physician burnout continues to become more vital as factors.

For the first time, the AMA surveyed physicians about their awareness and current usage of emerging technologies, such as augmented intelligence, blockchain, and precision medicine. More than a third of physicians intend to adopt emerging technologies in the near term.