Earlier this week I noticed that I had over 500 emails in my spam folder. I’m usually pretty good about cleaning it out every few days but recently I’ve been especially busy.
One of the reasons I’ve been busy is because I just moved. I wouldn’t be surprised if you already knew that since half the people sending me spam emails were apparently clued in.
Yep, I’ve been receiving spam emails from home security firms, companies offering home warranties, furniture stores, and even a divorce attorney (good, though incorrect, guess as to why I moved.) The mortgage companies were also in the know since dozens were offering to loan me money. All the same folks have sent similar notices through snail mail.
I then starting thinking about what happens when I go online to Amazon to buy a book. Often I don’t have a particular book in mind, which is why I like that Amazon offers me dozens of options based on my previous purchases. It’s rare that I don’t find a good match.
CVS also does a great job of keeping track of my buying habits and regularly sends me in-store coupons for items I have purchased in the past. It’s an effective system that keeps me shopping there at least once a week.
Sometimes it’s scary to think about how much the world seems to know about me. Yet with all this cool technology in place in almost every sector of our economy, isn’t it crazy that physicians have such difficulty accessing our medical information at the point of care?
I think it would be awesome if my doctor had more insight into what’s going on in my life. Can you imagine how it would change our conversation during an exam?
Doctor: Sorry you cut your hand and had to go to the ER for stitches. Is everything healed up now?
Doctor: So I noticed you just bought tickets to Mexico. When you were there a couple of years ago I see you picked up a case of Montezuma’s Revenge. Let’s discuss some ways to prevent that this trip.
Doctor: It’s good to see you have a membership to Gold’s Gym and are actually working out three or four times a week.
Doctor: You’ve been buying a lot of wine lately. Is that all for you?
OK, maybe it’s not necessary to know all the details of my life, but it’s not unreasonable to wish my doctor at least had ready access to all my relevant lab and test data. Privacy issues aside, if everyone else can keep track of all my buying and selling habits, then from a technological perspective it shouldn’t be that difficult to automatically inform my FP about my ER visit two months ago, the results of my EKG, and the new prescription for Omeprazole.
The reality is that it can be done, but we today we have several roadblocks, including:
- Privacy matters but every state has its own flavor of privacy laws, making it difficult to develop a one-size-fits-all solution.
- We do have standards. Unfortunately we still have too many.
- No one wants to pay to build the required infrastructure.
- Lack of buy-in. Providers resist sharing data out of fear of losing patients. Vendors would prefer to add new providers as customers than create interfaces to third-party systems.
- Without a national ID for healthcare, identifying individual patients will continue to be a struggle.
Sadly, as easy as it should be, there are still many hurdles. It would be ideal if the private sector could remove the obstacles with minimal intervention from the government, but whether or not we can get there without increased regulation remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, if anyone needs a good deal on furniture I am happy to share some coupons.
Michelle Ronan Noteboom
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