With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (aka, Obamacare), the health care industry has been mandated to install and implement Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or, in another term, Electronic Health Records (EHR).
Conceptually, this is a great idea. Move from paper to digital record keeping. Get away from scribble notes (insert Doctors’ handwriting jokes here) to electronic documents that can be stored, accessed, copied and transmitted without relying on penmanship.
Unfortunately, the jump from legislation to implementation is not that simple. It never is. Many health care professionals have and still rely on written documentation. It is ‘old school’ to say that those older professionals are not “computer literate”. Most of the older generation are quite technology literate. The current crop of younger health professionals have digital technology as part of their life.
So what is the problem? What is the potential for failure?
That weak link is the initial patient health history/biography. The patient is still handed a clipboard with papers to fill in. Write the data, check the boxes, answer the questions. All handwritten and possibly challenging the old Doctors’ handwriting joke. This document has to be ‘converted’ to the patient’s file data. So the system is reliant upon the data input clerk to read the paperwork and put it in properly.
Before I go further, remember why you are told to check your credit report routinely. You are looking for ‘mistakes’ in your credit history.
When I was working with security and ID systems several years ago, I shared the stage with a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He emphasized the weak link of digital databases inputted by date entry people reading handwritten documents. We were on different sides of the ID issue, but his comments stuck with me.
Unfortunately you are not given the chance to look for ‘mistakes’ in your health history…with each healthcare provider. Most of us have multiple health records with different providers. This adds to the real probability that our digital history will be wrong and copied over and over again in disparate databases.
What does this have to do with EMR/EHR?
As mentioned, the federally mandated system relies upon third party data entry people to put your information into a perpetual digital record.
In actuality, this federal directive will need to use a digital system to create the input for the EMR/EHR for accuracy. If not, the EMR/EHR system will be no more accurate than the present Credit Reporting websites. And no more accurate than the written files that have been used for years.
You, the patient/customer, have no access to your healthcare biography data.
To be sure, this deficiency is not yet on the radar screen. But it will have to be.
The Health Information Gathering System (HiGS) allows the patient to create his own health biography in digital form. It also allows the patient to honestly (and anonymously) answer her Health Risk Assessments (HRA) to provide critical information to the health care providers. No embarrassment in filling out forms and giving it to receptionists. No chance of the data input person to make a mistake putting the data into the EMR/EHR.
Beyond that, HiGS is the most comprehensive Health Biography and Health Risk Assessments available in the world today.
With over 60 e-Health Histories, over 180+ HRAs and more than 1500 Signs and Symptoms, HiGS enables the person to record their personal information privately.
The person can decide which data should be shared with their health care provider, other healthcare professionals and family member(s).
More than that, HiGS allows the EMR/EHR development community a digital vehicle for patient input and data integrity. There is no data input requirement and no ‘air gap’ between the written word and the digital world.
After all, the healthcare industry is all about fact gathering and the care of the patient. Shouldn’t the patient have a central, self-authenticated place within the systems? The place where they can both authenticate and easily access their own data?
I welcome your thoughts on this issue. firstname.lastname@example.org.