AI and medicine

How DOs can be at the forefront of the digital health revolution

A new AOIA initiative seeks to amplify osteopathic voices in the development and application of emerging technologies in medicine.


The digital world is advancing health care whether we like it or not. During this time of great change, it’s imperative that the osteopathic community invests in ensuring that we are leaders in the movement of digital health.

Interest in digital health and emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), wearable/implant technology, and artificial intelligence (AI) has never been higher. Across the country, osteopathic physicians and medical students are paying close attention to the breakneck pace of innovation as these new tools begin to shift every aspect of medical practice.

The federal government is also extremely invested in the strategic use of health information technology (IT) and digital health technologies—key, breaking examples of policy and regulation include the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan from the Office of the National Coordinator (an office within Health and Human Services) and the 21st Century Cures Act.

In this climate of swirling excitement, policy and general unknowns, our profession needs a trusted source of information, a guiding beacon and a watchful eye to advise us on which new technologies are effective, safe and in alignment with our philosophy.

DOs at the helm

In response to this critical need, the American Osteopathic Information Association (AOIA) is currently working to launch a multifaceted initiative called the Digital Health Innovation Community of Practice (DHI CoP), designed to catalyze digital health advancement and amplify our osteopathic voices in the development and application of emerging technologies in medicine.

This initiative will be an organization that all members of the osteopathic community can join. Guided by subject-matter experts, it will create a hub for networking, professional development, knowledge-sharing and collaboration on a national level to position osteopathic medicine at the forefront of the digital health revolution.

The DHI CoP will allow us to advocate for the development of these emerging tools from a humanistic perspective—incorporating our guiding principles of body, mind and spirit. Additionally, it will serve as a critical platform for osteopathic physicians, residents and students to engage in the exploration of new ideas and meaningful dialogue around existing challenges, identify novel need/use cases and promote opportunities to inform digital health education, training and scholarship.

Advancing osteopathic distinction

The first and most critical goal of the DHI CoP is to advance osteopathic distinction in digital health initiatives, education and training. Per the AOA’s 2023 Osteopathic Medical Profession (OMP) Report, osteopathic physicians make up a sizable and growing minority of physicians in the U.S. Our growing and critical role in health care makes applying an osteopathically principled focus to technology an imperative.

For example, AI point-of-care decision support tools need to be trained on osteopathic practices and literature, so they know better how to interpret osteopathic findings and provide appropriate evidence-based support.

The DHI CoP initiative will give us a collective voice to address concerns and opportunities such as this, ensuring our inclusion in the development of digital technologies and securing our philosophy in the future of medicine. With our “whole-person” approach to health care, we have something distinctive to add to this conversation.

The DHI CoP will also focus specifically on raising awareness of clinical informatics as a subspecialty, to increase training opportunities and board certifications. The DHI CoP will focus on partnerships, advocacy and policy recommendations necessary to advance this objective as well.

Learning and leading

The next goal of the DHI CoP is to facilitate knowledge-sharing, collaboration and data aggregation among all stakeholders in the osteopathic profession and beyond. The foundation of AI and other emerging technologies is data. The ability to exchange information freely and safely is the key to building and deploying the most consequential and powerful applications.

This is an area of opportunity in which our small size and coordination gives us versatility that can provide an edge over larger peer organizations and societies. The AOIA’s expertise and convening power makes the organization well-positioned to engage with, learn and lead the conversation around emerging and digital health technologies.

Driving innovation

Finally, the third goal of the DHI CoP is to drive innovation by reinvesting effort and energy into digital solutions, encouraging research, supporting new technological developments from our osteopathic medical schools, residents and attendings, and creating connections between our community and vendors/developers to find new solutions through collective partnerships.

Later stages of the initiative also include an important effort to establish a central repository of high-quality, verified digital health technologies that can be confidently employed by osteopathic physicians at all levels of practice.

Structured opportunities

Participating in the DHI CoP as a physician, resident or student will have many benefits. It will create structured opportunities for continuing medical education (CME), professional development and mentorship—learning opportunities for members of the profession who are interested in emerging health applications and technologies curated by thought leaders and innovators within the digital health community.

Despite widespread interest in emerging digital health technologies, the most significant barrier to entry for the osteopathic profession is the inability to find a way to get involved. The AOIA’s DHI CoP will establish a home for digital health learning, engagement and networking to elevate interested members’ voices into this space, effectively leveraging our vast expertise and experience across the osteopathic community.

Join us

The AOIA’s DHI CoP will officially launch in summer 2024. In the meantime, you can signal your interest in learning more about the DHI CoP by contacting the AOIA via its website. Doing so will ensure you are added to future communications about upcoming learning opportunities and events.

Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of The DO or the AOA.

Related reading:

The pros of artificial intelligence in health care

Artificial intelligence: Why it doesn’t belong in medicine

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy