A Complete Patient Record and You

Posted on March 9, 2016 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Wold, Account Based Marketing Program Manager at Hitachi Data Systems. You can follow Erin on Twitter: @ErinEWold
Erin Wold
So we have discussed the first steps to getting an enterprise imaging facility but what does this and a complete patient record mean for the average patient? If I were to stop someone walking down Las Vegas Blvd (I would shoot for the more sober hours) and ask them “Who owns your medical records?” I am sure I would get the same look and response over and over. The look of confusion and the response of “my doctor’s office?”  This is exactly what enterprise data sharing is set out to change.

A complete patient record for the patient means that a patient can go from their primary care physician to sub specialist without having to call ahead and have their records faxed over. It means that in the case of an emergency room visit they don’t have to worry about leaving with paperwork and getting it back to their primary care physician. It means their records follow them to whatever doctor they (or their insurance) choose.

For example, a couple weeks ago I won myself a trip to the emergency room after cutting a chunk out of my hand while slicing vegetables on a mandolin. (OUCH!) Not knowing my experience in healthcare IT, the resident, who came in first, was checking off all the boxes and asked “do you have a primary care physician?” In my pain ridden and snarky voice I responded “Why does it matter? Your computer can’t talk to hers anyway.” He got a chuckle and said I had a good point and then asked if I was in healthcare. But we have all been there. We have seen one physician only to turn around and have to tell the story all over again with the follow-up care physician because the records just aren’t there.

Not to mention I had pictures of the wound on my phone I had taken right after the incident. My follow-up physician asked that I send her these photos so she could take a look (because she didn’t have access to photos snapped in the ER). I asked her if she could put them into my patient record being my PCP? Her response, “no I don’t have a way to get them uploaded.” Similar to what Alex Towbin, MD, Director of Radiology Informatics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, said in his session at HIMSS16, he has multiple pics on his phone and there is nothing wrong security wise with that, but that’s not where the belong.

A complete patient record should include all medical data related to you. This includes images or all kinds whether an X-ray or photo snapped on an iPhone, textual reports (path, lab etc), and even larger data files including genome sequencing data, and digital breast tomosynthesis. I don’t think you would find one physician who would argue that any of your data is unimportant and can be left out.  In the wise words of John Halamaka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center the next time you ask why your patient record can’t be all in one and they (physicians or IT) respond because there is too much data to store, you should ask them “well how does Google do it then?”