My Health Information Should PRECEDE Me, Not Just Follow Me

To state the obvious, there are times when the value of information depends on timing. Sometimes information needs to be provided in advance.

Consider a few examples. How valuable would the following types of information be to you?

  • From your GPS car navigation device: “You should have turned off at the last freeway exit”.
  • From the National Weather Service: “A class four tornado is hitting your neighborhood right now”.
  • From an airline when you arrive at the gate: “We canceled your flight five hours ago because we needed the plane on another route. Sorry”.

The Federal ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) website speaks to the value of creating a secure, interoperable nationwide health information network:

A key premise is that information should follow the patient, and artificial obstacles — technical, bureaucratic, or business related — should not be a barrier to the seamless exchange of information. (Emphasis added)

I’m not being critical of ONC here — the idea of my electronic health information following me clearly is better than today’s typical state of affairs. Until today most health information has been metaphorically “frozen” on paper and patients have had to request it in writing.

But…while some of this might be semantics, I think we should set the bar higher.

I don’t just want my health information to follow me, I want it to precede me — to be available to my care providers before I arrive, e.g.:

  • To the specialist that my primary care physician has referred me to
  • To the emergency physician — after the paramedics have picked me up in the field, but before I arrive in the ER

The technological capabilities are on the horizon with Meaningful Use Stages 2/3 and with Blue Button+.

But the bigger challenge will be one of mindset — where care providers come to recognize that a duty to share patient information ahead of my physical arrival is good medicine, good customer service, and competitive advantage.

I want my health information to precede me — to be at my beck and call.  I’ll choose health care providers that can make that happen.

3 thoughts on “My Health Information Should PRECEDE Me, Not Just Follow Me

  1. That is hopefully the minimum requirement. Because I not only want it to preceed me when I want to.. but show up when I don’t expect but should expect. Like when I should be paying attention to health indicators, like when me risk indicators due to external factors have increased and when my wellness needs to be nudged.

  2. It would be a good thing for my health data to “precede” me as I traverse the health care landscape.

    However, it would be *even* better if my data stayed put – under the purview of the health care provider (HIPAA-covered entity) of *my* choosing.

    When said information needed to be accessed by a provider of care, that provider’s applications would gain access to my record (presuming the requisite security and privacy measures are in place), make the necessary updates/alterations to my record in situ and be done with it.

    No muss, no fuss.

    … OK … aside from the fact that it doesn’t work remotely like that today – but shouldn’t we be aiming to fix it?

  3. Well said, the technology to create the network of info is the least of our problems the mindset of staff in the medical field is the uphill battle

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