Health Care and Patient Information Online

In all the health care debate – the question of  patient information sharing is not getting enough importance. Should it?

Probably yes if you see how doctor's offices and hospitals struggle with trying to keep track of information. Just think how many times you repeat the answer to your allergy question!!

On the provider  side "Defensive medicine" is partly to blame –HIPAA and medical malpractice lawsuits impact the information behavior of the medical establishment. Too many paper records floating around, tests repeated, unnecessary tests and related documentation with attendant costs and inefficiencies are some examples.Coupled with this are different technologies in different doctor offices that do not speak to each other. So frequently you have the ridiculous situation of creating paper from a digital source just because systems do not speak to each other. Firms like Novo Innovations ( now apparently merged with Medicity)  are trying to do just this.

On the patient side, society is changing with social media (Facebook,Twitter) making you share your most mundane activities. The problem is that while  you can have a fancy persona on Facebook but can't really change the numbers on your medical record ….

You cannot leave it to all patients to digitize their records ( Google Health  is trying to do that for the really motivated). For the insured and lucky majority  among us – there is no incentive for health or dental insurance companies to share information ( so you take two sets of X Rays without the benefit of X-Ray comparisons when  you change dentists). In contrast, life insurance companies actively share any medical information they gather from their policy applicants- to appropriately price life insurance risk.

The task in healthcare is mammoth, but probably it should be mandatory to have both insured and un-insured patient data online, as it is created, so that better care and lower costs occur. Or there should be some kind of financial incentive to the medical establishment to post patient data,securely online. It will happen…. but it can't be soon enough.

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