What does the next generation of health care look like? Who really knows, but technology is currently available to take it to a higher level. I know enough about the various applications and technologies to be dangerous, and like most others, can offer my own opinion.
That said, it certainly can be better than what we have today. Let me regale you with a friend's recent visit to his doctor.
First, just because you have the tools, doesn't mean you are using them properly, or getting the most productivity out of them. When entering his doctor's office he immediately felt like he entered a medical facility of the future.
He knew exactly where his payments for service had gone - into retro-fitting the office with computers, scanners, video connections, everything needed to make patients feel like they will receive top-shelf service.
After a kindly, "hello, what's your name," the medical assistant entered his name into a computer - and then proceeds to hand him two forms to complete, the same ones he completed for every annual visit over the past ten years.
But he realized they had a computer system running for several years? Same information, except he was a year older.
"Isn't this information in my electronic medical record (EMR)?" he asked. "We had to switch to another system so we have to re-enter it into the new system," she responded.
He thought to himself, "couldn't they just transfer my information electronically between systems? Isn't that what an EMR or EHR is supposed to do?"
So not to raise his blood pressure before he saw the doctor he let it slide.
"The doctor will see you now," and with that the assistant sends him into an examination room. The doctor enters and he notices the doctor has a netbook that's hooked into the medical facility's Wi-Fi network. Cool, or so he thought.
"I see that your last physical was about a year ago."
Okay, that's a good start...then it begins....
"What medications are your taking?"
The same meds you prescribed last year," he said.
"How old are you?"
"A year older than last year," he quipped.
"Have you had any surgeries in the past ten years?"
He knew that information should be in some database, and the doctor should know if he had any over the past year.
"Same as the last time we spoke," he responded.
"So what do you actually do with that netbook?"
"Enter patient information..."
"And where does that information go?" he asked suspiciously.
"To a company in California. They store it on a server."
"In my EMR or EHR?" He could see the doctor getting irritated.
"I believe so...." Okay, that was it.
My friend suggested to the doctor that he's not only wasting his time but the doctor's, and that of his staff. He told the doctor he could reduce his costs and afford a new Mercedes if he optimized how he used the technology at his disposal.
Collecting data is great, but using and sharing it with others in the health care ecosystem - some of whom he might seek services from in the future - is essential to enhancing the quality of health care in our country.
After explaining how to share services throughout his office, my friend offered him a 10,000 foot overview of how his service in California should be part of a "cloud" that links into a secure and private network of services, applications and platforms that health care professional can access, regardless of location.
The doctor gave my friend one of those "looks," thanked him for the explanation, and reached for his stethoscope.
"Let's move on to the physical," the doctor said.
To this day my friend said he probably should have waited until after the exam to offer his insight, and by the way, he expects to be filling out the same forms next year.
Life goes on . . . :-)
Have a safe and healthy week.
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