Written by Jacquelyn L. McDaniel
Dr. Ryun Harper
Emergency Dept. Physician at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, CA.
Medical Informaticistst with Daughters of Charity Hospital
Hear how health information exchange is crucial for physicians in an ED.
Hear an ED physicians perspective on how the technology of health information exchange benefits all constituents involved in patient care providers, hospitals, payers and, most importantly, patients.
Murphy’s Law has been the ruler of physical world at least since the age of nine. That was when my skates, not me, tripped over a cracked in the sidewalk caused by the growing roots of “the giving tree” located in front of my home. That Kaiser emergency room trip was the beginning of a myriad of trips to my second home. Over the next 20 years I’ve had major car accidents, delivered a baby, and fallen down a flight of stairs. I’ve also broken and sprained my toes a few times, my foot, my ankle, and fingers. I’ve had different health care providers, primary care physicians, emergency rooms, and hospitals throughout my life who’ve provided various prescriptions, diagnosis’, and performed various surgical procedures. As a result, I’ve had to a few request for the transferrence of medical records. Unfortunately, It can take up to two or more weeks to have medical records transferred to different providers.
In this technological age, that’s absurb to me. Should I have waited to receive necessary medical care because my new primary physician with my new health care network doesn’t have my past medical history records? If there was a cross-network health information exchange system in place, I wouldn’t have to. My new network and new providers would have that information once they request input my name into the national health information exchange system. Due to the lack of vigilence regarding the care of my body, I don’t possess records detailing the various trips to see physicians, nurse practicioners, and physician’s assistants. I often wish there was better exchange of patient information so that I wouldn’t have to repeat information that I may not have or may not remember. Not just for myself, but for all those patients that have not received appropriate health care or who’ve been misdiagnosed due to lack of updated and accurate patient health care information.
According to IsabelHealthcare.com, “There is no guaranteed way to ensure that misdiagnosis will be avoided. In general, patients should always provide their physicians with as much information as possible when it comes to their symptoms, recent travel, outdoor activities, past medical history etc.” That’s idealistic, yet not realistic in a traumatic situation such as an individual with acute stomach pain while on vacation in Colorado and he/she lives in California. Most people suffering from trauma are usually in shock and unable to recall such vital information such as past medical history. I dream of the day where an individual in the above-mentioned situation can provide medical staff with a medical card that downloads his/her entire medical history which may include former diagnoses and current prescriptions. If my dream came to fruition,the risk of misdiagnosis or the prescription of an inappropriate pharmaceutical is minimized.
In my opinion, the accurate usage of patient health care information exchange systems is not just an act that saves lives and provides better patient care, it is an act of social justice- something President Obama is attempting via his mandate for electronic health records.
For more information on health information exchange link to the articles below:
States Role in Health Information Exchanges (HIE)