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CloudView blog

Ideas and insights to help health care providers stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health care environment.

Patient-Centered Exchange: Moving Toward an ATM Experience in a Health Care World

by Doran C. Robinson, Vice President of Healthcare Transactions

We all know what connectivity looks like – even when we’re not thinking about it. You experienced it the last time you withdrew money from an ATM owned by one of your bank’s competitors. Or when you made a restaurant reservation without leaving Opentable. Or when you saw departure times and prices for hundreds of flights all in one place. We experience connectivity just about every day. We also know, sadly, that we rarely experience this kind of connectivity in health care.

Fortunately, there are few technological barriers standing in the way of progress of open information exchange in health care. The Meaningful Use program, for example, made it possible for one hospital or practice to push information to any other and to ensure all EHRs speak the same technical language. HIPAA, created in part to help ensure data privacy, already allows for sharing of medical records for purposes of treatment. So why can’t 72% of adults access their medical records online? And why do 95% of physicians report they’ve experienced difficulty delivering care due to inaccessible medical records? Why don’t patients’ data simply follow them wherever they go for care?

The remaining barriers are mostly political, with some organizations preventing the flow of patient data, with the complicit support of their vendors, and deciding individually with whom to share data and when. However, brick by brick, the wall is slowly crumbling – just look at the work of the CommonWell Health Alliance, DirectTrust, and Carequality, to name a few. We’re nearing a historic moment when the gates to true interoperation are starting to open.

It’s time for the entire health care community to move from a provider-centered model, where data exchange is mediated by practices or health systems, to a patient-centered model where the patient dictates that their chart will follow them across the continuum of their care.

In a patient-centered exchange, patients control access to their medical records, and providers have access to their patients’ most relevant data. Advancing patient-centered exchange is not just the right thing to do for quality care, it’s also important to providers’ financial future; those who embrace patient-centered exchange will have more timely access to patient information from across the continuum, a necessary component to succeed in any value-based program focused both the quality and cost of care.

In a leading step towards making patient-centered exchange a reality, all athenahealth clients have access to CommonWell’s interoperability services as a standard feature of the athenaClinicals EHR service.

We’re approaching a watershed moment for the health care industry. Every single provider on athenaClinicals – and on an EHR activated with CommonWell services – will be able to work as one around the patient. It’s a big step forward in our vision to create a national health information backbone. If you’re not an athenahealth client, ask your EMR vendor how they can leverage CommonWell services to enable patients to share their data across the continuum of their care today.

Once the data starts to flow, health IT vendors, athenahealth included, will be able make the best use of newly available data to continue to help improve the delivery and efficiency of care. 

What do you think? Can the health IT replicate the ease of ATM connectivity in health care?

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Cloudview Blog

Ideas, insights and analysis to help physicians, medical groups and health systems stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health environment.

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Submitted by Mark J. Kania - Monday, June 29, 2015

Open exchange of health information among a patient's healthcare providers should be required, and not optional.

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