Patient access and engagement have been on my brain of late. Sure, that has a lot to do with the fact I attended both Health Datapalooza and the Health Privacy Summit last week in Washington, D.C.--but it's also due to a recent personal experience.
It took place a few weeks ago when I brought my child into the pediatrician for an on-again, off-again rash. After conversing with the doctor about the best plan of attack, I was told to take pictures the next time the rash appeared, to better help with diagnosis.
When I asked if the office had any sort of HIPAA compliant tools that would allow me to send such pictures electronically to the practice without having to set up another appointment, I was told it did not. When I asked about a patient portal for viewing records, the answer was the same.
I was disappointed, to say the least.
And I'm sure I'm not alone. Lots of patients (and parents/guardians) probably feel the same way, but don't know it until they're put in a similar situation. Today, there's an assumption that certain services will be available online and/or via mobile devices. When they're not, it comes as a shock.
"We're in the middle of a huge cultural shift to get patients access to their records," U.S. Chief Technology Officer Todd Park said last Wednesday at the Health Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C. "It's a simple, but powerful concept for patients."
Added Park: "People who are not well care a ton about access to their information. … Information can heal, but most powerfully if it's in the hands of patients."
As payment models shift from fee-for-service to a focus on accountable care, healthcare will have to start offering patients more information and better ways to share it. After all, technology is going to be integral to ACO effectiveness, which ultimately will determine doctor pay.
But such change should be about more than getting paid.
"We need to take initiative and ask our physicians why they're using old tools or sending us for outdated tests," cardiologist Eric Topol, a professor of genomics at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, told me back in February. "Getting the next generation of physicians loaded with these tools is key, but we can't wait that long. … We've got to convert the unwilling currently practicing physicians in this country now."
For generations, doctors have adopted different instruments and tools to improve the quality of care provided to their patients. Why should this be any different? - Dan @FierceHealthIT
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