Our Healthcare needs a Comprehensive Electronic Health Record System with the Patient in Control

Originally published by Technology Hits on Medium

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It’s time for a genuinely unified electronic health record system that combines data from various medical providers controlled by the patient. That concept is a matter of practicality today. It’s a vision that can only be comprehended using fully interoperable and decentralized health-record technologies. Today, hospitals and health systems control patient records, and the patient does not always have full access to their health history. When a patient goes from seeing a doctor who belongs to a health system to a specialist clinic run by an independent doctor, their health record does not always travel. That means that clinicians cannot always see a patient’s entire history, which puts the doctor at a disadvantage when planning a course of treatment. It also leaves the patient feeling that they are not in control of their healthcare. Who Should Own Medical Records? Nobody gave much thought about patient medical records till few years back. It is possible to find a better way. That is not a matter of opinion. I say this because I have been a part of a system where patients control their health histories. This system was better for providers and patients. When I was a resident, I worked at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Those were the days of paper records before digital recordkeeping became the norm. The military personnel treated at Walter Reed carried their medical files as they moved from one specialist to another or from one healthcare facility to another. The patient was in complete control of his or her information. Walter Reed used a paper-based system that was ripe for disruption by electronic health records. But by giving the patient complete control of their health history, the military was ahead of its time. As the use of electronic records continues to spread, health administrators should not merely be asking how this digital system might ease their data-entry workload or streamline hospital operations. They should also be asking how their EHR system might put the patient in the driver’s seat. The Utility of Real-time Data Analytics in Healthcare A Comparative look amid Centralization and Decentralization of Data and the Process Enabling patients to control their health history will: · Build Trust amongst patients and their medical team · Ensure Transparency · Improve the quality of care · Help lower costs · Lower rates of physician liability and error · Create a more competitive market · Improve continuity of care · Solve many health information privacy issues · Create healthcare without borders The last point — eliminating borders in healthcare — is a crucial one. Patients move between hospitals, diagnostic centers, and independently-run medical clinics. Clinicians in these different settings need to see a patient’s complete health record, which is still a challenge today. Healthcare should begin with the patient, and the patient should be the one to decide what information gets shared with what provider. The country needs a decentralized health record system with patients being the owner of their data as health histories increasingly go digital. And while different stakeholders hold different views on how best to create this system, I know from experience that putting the patient in control is the best and only way to make this happen. It empowers the patient and allows doctors to deliver better care by bringing more efficiency to the doctor-patient relationship.

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