In a recent editorial , Modern Healthcare argues that the current national health information technology (IT) efforts should be abandoned since they can’t succeed unless “the federal government mandates a single healthcare information technology platform for all healthcare providers and heavily subsidizes its adoption.” While we agree that the current efforts are not progressing well, we are not willing to dismiss health information technology’s potential to improve care, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.
Health Record Banks and Consent Management Tools Can Overcome Problems with Current Health IT Efforts
Over the past several years, more than enough time and energy has been spent trying to automate our existing, inadequate system of health information “exchange” between various healthcare stakeholders. Not only have these efforts failed to solve the problem of making complete patient records available, they are also numbingly complex, frighteningly expensive, and a massive threat to privacy. It is time to use ‘smart’ technology and build a system of Health Record Banks that can provide more complete electronic patient information with informed consent whenever and wherever needed. Health record banks with independent consent management tools that automate the process of obtaining permission for each release of information can make the records needed for safe and effective medical care available while fully protecting every individual’s right to health information privacy.
Health Record Banks (HRBs) would provide everything needed for an effective nationwide health information system: 1) consumer-controlled access to medical records; 2) financial sustainability; 3) incentives for physicians to acquire and use electronic health record (EHR) systems in their offices; 4) ironclad privacy protection; 5) stakeholder cooperation; and 6) access to health data for consumer-authorized secondary uses such as medical research.