AMA, health-tech hub MATTER team up to bolster care

By , Crain’s Chicago Business

February 4, 2015

The American Medical Association and Matter, a health care technology incubator, are teaming up to improve how physicians and patients interact.

Chicago-based AMA, the nation’s largest physician organization, and Matter, which opened this week at the Merchandise Mart, today are kicking off a partnership that will include creating the AMA Interaction Studio at Matter. The idea is for physicians and entrepreneurs to use the 450-square-foot simulation facility to develop new technologies, services and products.

The benefits are twofold: Physicians get a seat at the table with entrepreneurs designing the next phase of health care technology, medical devices and pharmaceutical products. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs can tap the insight of a steady stream of physicians to improve their ideas.

“There’s a huge amount of innovation and new technology sort of pouring into the health care world right now,” Matter CEO Steven Collens said. “A lot of the technologies that are being developed, and the products and services being developed, have some implications on how doctors interact with their patients.”

For example, pairing physicians with tech-savvy entrepreneurs could lead to solutions for daily obstacles, such as clunky electronic medical records, AMA CEO James Madara said. They also could come up with ways to help patients prepare better for doctors’ appointments, such as having blood work done ahead of time, he said.

“Health care is in a state of enormous flux right now,” Dr. Madara said. “Many areas of the industry are thinking about new innovations.”

The AMA has about 228,000 physician members and more than 180 medical societies that make up the association’s policymaking arm.

The interaction studio at Matter likely will resemble a typical doctor’s office, but it will have a higher level of technology and will be flexible enough to allow doctors and entrepreneurs to test new ways to make their days more efficient.

Matter, which is next door to the traditional tech incubator 1871, so far houses about 50 health care startups in a space where they can connect with some of the region’s biggest companies, universities and investors. Major local pharmaceutical companies AbbVie, Astellas Pharma and Takeda Pharmaceutical are among the private investors.

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