Thursday, November 5, 2015

Patients taking control of their medical records

As an Emergency Medicine physician in the year 2015, it is really astounding to think that we landed a man on the moon more than 40 years ago, yet I have patients walking in the door who had tests done at a facility across the street yesterday and I can't access those records. Thankfully some states have taken this situation into their own hands and developed systems for sharing medical records, such as the CRISP system in Maryland. Alas, most states have not yet built health information exchanges, and even those that have (like Maryland) don't necessarily have a patient portal.

There are many different models for how medical records should be stored and shared in the future, and I'm not sure which model will win out in the end. What seems most compelling is for records to revolve around the patient (as opposed to the hospital), and two products out there that do this well (to my knowledge) are: PicnicHealth and Gliimpse. Both PicnicHealth and Glimpse will help retrieve, organize and store patients' data, but Gliimpse is free and Picnic is not. As compelling as these services are, I have yet to experience a single patient coming in to the ER and saying, "Doc, you can find my records by going to website x...."

How do you get people to take the time to onboard onto this sort of service? I think one great option is to onboard patients while they are in the ER. Almost every ER visit involves at least an hour of dead time, waiting for some test or intervention, and it just happens that their health happens to be a critical issue at that time (that's why they're in the ER). It's a captive audience; take advantage of it. Hand the patient an iPad and a brochure and tell them to sign up!

I think there would be many Emergency Medicine physicians and groups that would support this sort of initiative.

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