National Health Trust : A Patient’s Manifesto
For years, my visits to doctors have involved mindlessly repetitive questioning about the same basic health issues: Do I take any medications? Am I allergic to anything? What medical problems have I had in the past? When I ask why it’s the same thing, over and over, they say, “So we don’t miss anything.” But what if I do?
Electronic health records were supposed to be the answer. Every doctor using the computer would be able to see my record. At one of my doctors, they give me access to “My Chart.” Ironically, it’s not my chart. It’s some small portion of my chart that I’ve been permitted to see after my doctor clears me to see it. And when it’s incomplete (which is the norm), I can’t fix it.
The thing is, electronic health records collect my information for the benefit of the doctors using them. They don’t work for me. That is, I go to quite a few doctors, and they all seem to use systems that don’t talk to each other. It’s like the system is built for doctors first, insurance companies next, and patients last.
Why can’t the system revolve around me? I mean, I’m paying the bills. I paid my taxes all my working life. The doctors say they can’t openly communicate because of privacy – and I understand that. But it should not mean they don’t communicate at all.
If I were building an electronic health record, it would serve the needs of the doctor by improving communication between doctors, and including computerized safety alerts – but it would also serve my needs. I would get an updated copy of my record, at least of the most important parts. And it would work for me, everywhere I go.
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