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Physicians need immediate relief from patient data disconnect


Physicians’ ongoing struggle to gain much-needed patient data is just that: ongoing.

Physicians’ ongoing struggle to gain much-needed patient data is just that: ongoing.

As we enter 2018, experts say progress has been made on the path to electronic health record (EHR) interoperability, but the data traffic jam still exists daily for doctors.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Are blockchain and AI the keys to unlocking interoperability?


In the fee-for-service days, lack of interoperability was a nuisance. PDF files, faxes and even printouts sent via mail had to be input into EHRs to complete the overview of a patient’s status. Now, with value-based care, those same inconveniences largely still exist, but missing data results in missing money as physicians can’t prove the quality of care they are providing.

We wouldn’t put up with this elsewhere in our digital lives. If your bank told you that in order to use an ATM, you’d have to get in a queue as it gets the necessary information together, you would switch banks. If Gmail told you an email would process after it got permission from Yahoo to deliver it to that user’s inbox, you’d stop using Gmail. 

Doctors are trapped in a digital dungeon created by the healthcare industry.

FURTHER READING: Putting process over patients hurts healthcare

And in a climate where doctors face an onslaught of stressors to simply improve patient care, it’s time to get the best minds together to free up time, energy and needed information about those in their care.

We’ve all heard the rumblings that Apple is preparing to wade into the murky patient record waters, and perhaps other Silicon Valley competitors and Microsoft will follow. CNBC recently reported that the creator of the iPhone was indeed working on a top-secret medical record product, but is stymied in its progress by one huge obstacle: the complete and utter chaos of collating patient data from myriad sources.

Next: Waiting for the data savior


But until the time a tech giant becomes a data savior and provides some relief for physicians, federal regulators need to also realize their roles. They are essentially asking physicians to prove their value through a complex data reporting process and only providing some of the puzzle pieces. That’s simply not good policy.

You’ll read in this issue that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are working collaboratively to not only identify burdens for physicians, but reduce them.


MORE: The paradox in American healthcare


I can only hope that this relief comes sooner rather than later as physician frustration grows. 

Plus, if Apple can’t figure this out, healthcare is surely in big trouble. 


Keith L. Martin is editorial director of Medical Economics. How would you solve the patient data disconnect? Tell us at medec@ubm.com.

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