Here’s an interesting notion, partly because this is the second time I’ve heard lately of schemes to put health records and information under the control of individual consumers. This one is a plan to go directly to consumers and encourage them to set up electronic medical records (EMR). It seems to be a kind of end-run around the docs, hospitals, and payers that don’t seem motivated to get it together around electronic records.
The guy behind the “Health Data Exchange,” as he calls it, says:
“Our perspective is that it’s widely agreed that information technology can have a profound effect on healthcare. But unlike most other industries, it seems like IT is just not getting traction in healthcare,” Baum said. “There’s no demand for it right now in the form of consumer activity saying we want this.”
“We need to raise the level of national discussion about healthcare and how information can improve your own health and that of your family,” Baum said. “The average consumer has to have some sense of what that would be.”
The second and more ambitious element of the Health Data Exchange plan is the creation of a patient-controlled health record hosted by the Exchange. In the group’s vision, patients would upload their information via the Internet and then choose which healthcare professionals may view and add to that record.
Besides jumpstarting the electronic records biz, there are a couple of other interesting aspects of this. First, it might remove some anxiety about the privacy of medical information if people control access at the Exchange. Second, perhaps if people got more involved with the details of their medical information they might become more aware of the impact of their own lifestyle and behavior on their health. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Of course, all this might be just a ploy to startle the healthcare industry people into action (ie, investing in expensive systems). After all, if consumers got sovereign control of their information, that would give them a lot more power than I think the health care providers want them to get.