About electronic patient record systems

Existing solutions for electronic patient record systems fail because they begin with a wrong assumption. As I understand it, the original patient record system was invented by Mayo clinic in 1907. The idea is that for each patent, the hospital would create and maintain a central dossier folder for all medical records for an individual patient. Contemporary electronic patient record system is not much different from this ancient way of managing documents. We create an electronic repository for all patients in electronic form. Such records are however currently owned and managed by hospitals who created them. When patients do not move and keep their relationship with the same hospital for a long time, it may work just fine. However, as the patients mobility grows and they have to interact with so many different specialists, the old hospital centric patient record system must be replaced with a patient centric system. 

So, it looks like this. After each visit, the doctor will generate some type of record. Patients will collect that information (either via in paper or in digital) and store them in a cloud service in digital form. Hospitals and doctorals must request access to the patient data. Patients can also grant access to whomever they am willing to grant access to the data. It is maintained by a trusted third-party company who is primarily working for patients, not doctoral or hospitals. Patients’ subscription to the service can be covered by the insurance and more accurate information sharing can reduce the overall cost of healthcare service. Right now, if a patient want to move her doctor or hospital, the patient have pay a fee to get “her own data”. If she am in an emergency room in a remote country, there is very little chance that the doctors and hospitals there can access her medical information. Just like many other data from my life, medical data should be mine and primarily serve my interests. 

What is needed is not mere electronic replica of century old paper-based system, but rather new type of digital vault of personal data. The ownership of the data should be exclusively to the patients and their immediate family members. In old days, storing and maintaining large-volume of medical records at home was not safe or practical. With today’s digital technology, it is time to rethink about patient records and design a new system. 

Professor | Writer | Teacher Digital Innovation, Design, Organizational Genetics Case Western Reserve University

One thought on “About electronic patient record systems

  1. Google Health (defunct) and Microsoft Health Vault are systems that are based on some of the concepts that you proposed. FYI

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