At last month’s HIMSS 2014 conference, as you might expect there was a lot of discussion about personal data, privacy, technology, and the intersection of each of these topics. While we believe there were a number of important takeaways, we want to address one in particular: healthcare systems and their data sharing policies are simply behind the times. This is why there was a general call to action at HIMSS to “empower the patient.”
What exactly do we mean by that?
The fact is that commercial companies, in particular those with focus on eCommerce like Amazon.com, have turned toward a customer-centric model. This refers to the fact that sites like Amazon organize their business to improve the experience for their customers at every turn and they also empower customers to make the right decisions for themselves as individuals.
It is easy to extrapolate how this kind of model can and should be applied to healthcare systems, and in particular, to their management and dissemination of patient data. When you shop on Amazon, the site learns what you look for and what you purchase, then uses that data to improve your shopping experience and show you things they think you may like or need. Sometimes they can be eerily accurate.
In healthcare, it is your personal patient records that can help you and the system learn what care options work best for you as an individual. The problem is this data is often spread across many offices, with many different doctors, and in many different formats. For instance, in 2014, many physicians are still receiving more than 1000 faxes per month! The combination of paper and digital records, in addition to the cadre of different doctors, means that getting the whole picture of your own patient data can be difficult if not impossible.
The solution is a patient-centered model for all healthcare systems that works toward making every healthcare interaction better, more personal and available to the patient. It starts with consolidating data and requires the different systems, different hospitals, and different doctors to work together to create comprehensive digital patient records that can be easily shared with each other and even with the patients themselves. This type of sharing and data mobility improves decision-making, patient engagement, and ultimately, the healthcare outcomes.
Even the smallest healthcare systems are not known to be nimble in their business practices. While the future is coming and some of the larger systems, like Kaiser Permanente, are already working with a patient-focused model, it is likely to take years until everyone else is on board. Fortunately, there’s a solution for individuals to securely take control of their own personal data so they can make the best health decisions for themselves: RecordVault. By taking responsibility for your own PHR, you can make healthcare for yourself and your family a patient-centered experience no matter where you go.