Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Facebook Medical Record

What are we trying achieve with medical records....? Asides from the obligatory proof that the care was delivered (billing) and determining how much should be paid for the delivery of that care medical records are about sharing information between care givers. It has always been that way. Years back the number of care givers was lower and specialization less so the number of people needing accessing to the this information was lower. Now with the tsunami of medical information it is impossible for single care givers to deliver all the possible ranges of care and it takes a village team to deliver care.

And the latest explosion on online activity - one who's traffic can exceed that of Google and you tube is Facebook, which according to their own description a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.
Now take this concept and adjust the wording.....
FaceBookHealthRecord is a social utility that connects patients with their care givers and others who provide diagnostic services, imaging, laboratory tests, results and pay for that care. Patients and clinical care givers use FaceBookHealthRecord to keep up with the status of their healthcare, their wellness and long term disease outlook as well as communicate quickly and effectively with specialists. All images, diagnostic study videos and diagnostic testing information can be uploaded and shared withe the clinical team allowing everyone to learn more about he care of that patient.
The interaction concept has been tested and reported on - Bob Wachter wrote an article just recently on this very concept "Creating a Facebook-like medical record" where he slams home the point on interoperability
In fact, today’s medical record virtually guarantees the silo-ization of care. Few physicians ever read nurses’ notes, even though all of us depend on the nurses to be our eyes and ears. And the situation iteratively worsens every day. Why would a nurse, realizing that no doctor ever reads her notes, even try to write them to be useful to physicians? And visa versa, obviously. Over the years, this divergence has been codified into ritual, calcified by templates, and hard wired through regulations whose original rationale no one can remember
Interestingly he points out that the spooks have gotten in on the concept with FaceBook-007 aka A-Space (I am guessing short for Analytical Space...?). Launch is set for Sep 22, 2008. UCSF back in 2003 launched a concept very much in line with the sharing of information amongst all the related parties (notably not the patient in this case) called Synopsis

As with all folklore associated with good concepts it was an rapid victim of its own success receiving requests for access, being copied and installed at other locations by users and even covered on a Web based M&M rounding on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) site

There is work on these concepts underway and even some launches - if you live in New York you can sign up with HelloHealth from MyCA Health group who liked the approach taken by Jay Parkinson (the Hipster-MD from New York- pdf) who launched his own home made system with a similar ideal of sharing information digitally and providing easy, affordable access to patients some months ago. The NHS in the UK is getting in on the act with the "Individual Health Record" and covered in a recent article "Personal Healthcare Management" (subscription required) in my regular column in the British Journal of Healthcare Management.

There is even a Facebook application - MedCommons available today for a subscription plus monthly storage charges. Unfortunately much of what will be transferred in is likely to be scanned images and print outs. The introductory video even shows your physician office receiving access to your medical data and printing it out.....sigh! This will change but for now we are stuck with the legacy information

No doubt there will be detractors and there are bound to be issues and problems but overall you have to like the idea of sharing data on the quickly and effectively with the full clinical team. And there lies a key point.... the information must be be clinical data and should be tagged to a controlled medical vocabulary to make this information valuable for automatic machine processing. But lets not burden the clinicians with entering data in online forms but provide tools that capitalize on clinical documentation and the natural expressivity of language while still creating the structured data that can be used by these connected applications.

No comments: