So much is now being written about the need for EHR systems to be patient-centric. At the very onset, it implies that current EHR systems are not patient-centric. As I think more about it, and read more about it, I also find that definitions of the words ‘patient-centric’ also vary.
The interesting thing is, that a lot of people writing these blogs are either providers (physicians and clinicians) or healthcare consultants. But of course, patients don’t blog and no one bothers asking patients.
What if Patients were responsible for keeping and maintaining their own medical records? What if the doctors and providers, clinics, and hospitals were not required to keep these records (other than legal necessity)?
What and How would Patients maintain their records?
About 8 years ago I decided to ‘organize’ my father’s medical records. He was of course, more organized than me. He had all his records meticulously organized on paper with proper folders and files. I thought I could do better.
I started using the now-defunct Google Health (don’t even get me started with that). After a lot of effort meticulously scanning and digitizing paper records, entering discrete data, and linking up to pharmacies, I was quite pleased. Not everything was there, but I was pleased.
This is where it started going downhill. Maintaining updated records was a nightmare. Not being able to ‘automatically’ populate the Digital Health records from hospitals and Dad’s personal physicians meant that I had to continue scanning all paper, entering data by hand. It was too much work. In one instance, it took me 5 phone calls, 2 visits, and 27 days before I could get two visit records from a local hospital, and they wanted to charge me $75.
So, slowly but surely, we slipped back to paper, and it worked!
Has anything changed now?
I don’t think so. Will it change in the future? Maybe it will, but trust me, it will take a long time.
In the meantime, we would be happy to go to any of our doctors and ask for an old record and get it instantly, without her having to dig through piles of paper, pull out the right chart, copy it, and mail it to me. And, hope and pray that I can read her handwriting.
So, EMR software is the first step in the right direction towards ‘patient-centric EMR/EHR’. At least, I will have ‘access’ to my records.