Dr. Collins, thank you for the opportunity to provide our ideas and perspectives on this important and exciting endeavor. I am Gretchen Purcell Jackson, Vice President and Chief Health and Science Officer at IBM Watson Health, as well as an Associate Professor of Surgery, Pediatrics and Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. I am health informatics scientist and practicing pediatric surgeon. Today, I speak in my role as the incoming Board Chair and President-elect of the American Medical Informatics Association, or AMIA.
AMIA is the professional home for more than 5,500 informatics professionals, representing frontline clinicians, researchers, and public health experts who bring meaning to data, manage information, and generate new knowledge across the health and healthcare enterprises. As the voice of the nation’s biomedical and health informatics professionals, AMIA plays a leading role in advancing health by moving basic research findings from bench to bedside, and evaluating interventions, innovations, and public policy across settings and patient populations.
AMIA and its members are excited by the prospect of a new agency with the mission to address the important, unsolved problems in the field of informatics and the nimbleness to produce tangible results. AMIA sees tremendous opportunities for an agency like ARPA-H to address Learning Health System infrastructure, clinician documentation burden, and the sluggish research ecosystem.
First, ARPA-H could accelerate advances in health by studying and creating the infrastructure needed to support a true learning health system. Currently, ideas, innovations, and lessons learned remain siloed with and are not be propagated across institutions, vendors, and technology platforms. With the right infrastructure, a myriad of unintegrated data sources and a wealth of healthcare experiences could form a foundation for research, patient care, and operational improvements.
A second critical unmet challenge is optimizing the electronic health record (EHR) to fully realize health data and technologies as an enablers of, rather than detractors from, quality care. Earlier this year, AMIA co-led the National Library of Medicine-funded 25x5 Symposium to Reduce Documentation Burden on US Clinicians by 75% by 2025. We encourage ARPA-H to deliver on Symposium’s calls to action, which encourage research into enhanced EHR functions, such as 1) real-time and automated information retrieval, documentation, and order entry, 2) simplified and context-specific EHR views, 3) clinical decision support tailored to clinician workflows, and 4) automated charge capture without increased clinician burden. The decoupling of billing and patient care data is also key. Imagine if we could harvest and learn from data that are unpolluted with artifacts from billing requirements.
Finally, we see the potential for ARPA-H to be a convener that allows big team, big data science to occur in a fully-realized way and at the pace of technology evolution. As an academic clinician scientist, there was nothing more frustrating than writing a grant to leverage bleeding edge technologies, and by the time the grant was funded and work completed, the technology had come and gone. The global pandemic has demonstrated what is possible when universities, non-profits, governments, and commercial entities come together to rapidly achieve impossible and impactful scientific advances. ARPA-H should foster an ecosystem for rapid responses to health emergencies, as well as coordinated efforts to address longstanding health challenges, like obesity, disparities in health outcomes, and addiction.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to share our ideas, and AMIA looks forward to working with NIH and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as ARPA-H takes shape.