AMA Adopts New Policies to Improve Health of Nation on Second Day of Voting at Annual Meeting

CHICAGO - The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization in the country, voted to adopt new policies on emerging health care topics during the second day of its Annual Meeting.

The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.

The policies adopted by the House of Delegates today include:

Call for Grace Period on ICD-10 Implementation
The AMA bolstered its efforts to mitigate the potential problems that could result from the implementation of ICD-10 today by calling for a two-year grace period during which physicians will not be penalized for errors, mistakes and/or malfunctions of the system.

“The bottom line is that ICD-10 will significantly overwhelm physician practices with a 400 percent increase in the number of codes physicians must use for diagnosis, which will take time away from the valuable one-on-one patient-physician interface that is the hallmark of taking the best care of patients,” said AMA Board Member Russell W.H. Kridel, M.D. “We continue to press both Congress and the Administration to take necessary steps to avoid widespread disruption to physician practices created by this overly complex and burdensome mandate. Coding and billing protocols should never get in the way of patients receiving high quality care.”

The AMA has long been an advocate for reducing the tsunami of regulatory burdens on physician practices so that they can focus their energy on what’s important: patient care. Efforts to diminish the negative impact of ICD-10 also include advocating for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create hardship exemptions for those physicians whose billing software or claims processing clearinghouses are unable to make a smooth transition.

Developing Best Practices for Mobile Medical Apps
As part of its efforts to bolster innovation that helps physicians take better care of their patients, new AMA policy calls for the development and dissemination of best practices to guide the development and use of mobile medical apps. More and more physicians and patients are using mobile medical apps to increase efficiency, manage chronic conditions and help inform care decisions and the marketplace continues to expand. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that industry analysts predict 500 million smartphone users worldwide will be using a mobile medical app this year, rising to 1.7 billion smartphone and tablet users by 2018.

“The AMA is committed to working with stakeholders to support the development of new technologies that help physicians take better care of their patients and help patients become more engaged in their health care,” said AMA Board Member Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “This new policy builds upon existing efforts such as our partnership with health care technology incubator MATTER, our work with Healtheway and Carequality and our efforts to increase the appropriate use of telemedicine technologies.”

Preventing Injuries through Headphone Awareness
New AMA policy aims to increase public awareness about the dangers of using headphones in both ears during outdoor activities.

Studies have shown increased injuries associated with wearing headphones while engaging in activities such as biking, jogging. Doing so may cause individuals to become distracted and impede their ability to hear other outside critical sounds like car horns, emergency vehicles or railroad crossing horns. Under the new policy, the AMA supports warning labels advising consumers about these dangers to be included on the packaging of hand-held devices that use earbuds or headphones.

“There have been more and more reports of people becoming injured during outdoor activity because they were distracted by headphones and we believe the best way to help curb this trend is to make sure the public is aware of the high potential for injury,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D.

Ensuring Proper Labelling for Sunglasses
To help consumers avoid exposure to harmful UV radiation that can lead to damaged vision and compromised eye health, the AMA adopted policy recognizing that sunglasses offering 100 percent protection from both UVA and UVB radiation are the safest choice for consumers. The policy also calls on manufacturers to clearly label all sunglasses with the percentage of UVA and UVB radiation blocked to ensure consumers are aware of the extent to which their sunglasses will protect their eyes from each type of UV radiation.

“People should know that wearing sunglasses doesn’t automatically mean that their eyes are protected from the harmful effects of UV radiation,” said AMA Board Member Jack Resneck Jr., M.D. “It is very important that sunglasses provide full protection against both UVA and UVB radiation in order to prevent lasting eye damage.”

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