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A recent study showed that 62% of insured adults rely on their doctors to manage their health records, and nearly 29% of the respondents indicated that they keep them in a home-based physical storage location like a folder or even a shoebox. In this day and age, individuals need the ability to access their health information electronically, and actively direct its flow so as to take charge of their own health and make more informed decisions. The requirement for individuals to securely and electronically authorize the movement of their health data to destinations they choose cannot be understated. The transfer can be between and among their clinicians, hospitals, health-care providers, or even family members.

Target Consumer Population and Target Healthcare Providers

Individuals in all age groups who can download care provider reports and discharge summaries from patient portals on different EHR systems that are certified for Meaningful Use. Furthermore, these individuals need the ability to direct electronic transfers of their healthcare records between care providers.

Physicians participating in the Meaningful Use program (and using Certified EHR Technology), who currently provide the ability to view and download relevant health data, need to fulfill true ‘Transmit’ requirements of the V/D/T (View/Download/Transmit) portion of the Meaningful Use program. Upon being directed by their patients, they should be able to transmit data instantly within the requirements of doing it in 4 business days.

Similarly, Hospitals participating in the Meaningful Use program and using a certified EHR platform should also be able to transmit data electronically to other care providers to meet the requirements of providing discharge summaries within 36 hours.

Problems to be addressed

With over 300 different EHR systems in use today, when visiting a doctor, the average patient’s experience is recorded within at least 3 different information systems of record. That same patient also sees 18.7 different doctors in his or her lifetime. For patients over 65 years of age, the average increases to 28.4 individual doctors, including primary care, specialists, hospital and urgent care providers. Between all of these doctors and all of these systems, there is little-to-no communication. This leaves a patient’s medical record scattered across many different types of systems controlled by many different IT departments and behind many different firewalls. This renders the patient, and their respective providers, lacking a holistic view of the patient’s health.

Results from various studies clearly indicate that individuals experience big gaps in health information exchange, such as:

• Store, copy and carry hard copies of X-rays, MRIs or other types of test results on appointments
• Redo tests or procedures because results of earlier tests are not available
• Have to submit the same health information repeatedly because reports are not available from one care provider to another

Medical errors resulting from lack of information and manual transfer of information from one system to another are attributed to 195,000 deaths a year in hospitals. Similarly, 1.5 million Americans are sickened, injured or killed each year by errors resulting from lack of automation in prescribing, dispensing and taking medications according to the Institute of Medicine.

Solutions

Clinical data that comes from EHR or other clinical systems is critical to the planning, execution, and management of coordinated care plans for patients. Soon, clinical data will be exchanged between systems using HL7 FHIR standards. Moreover, individuals will be able to use a browser on a laptop or a mobile application with a user interface that lets her securely and electronically authorize the movement of their health data to destinations they choose.