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Why Should Patients Control Their Health Data? Here Are A Few Ideas.

Posted on September 29, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Lately, healthcare organizations have begun working to give patients more access to their personal health data. They’ve concluded that the more control patients have, the more engaged they become in your care, which in turn leads to better outcomes.

But patient engagement isn’t the only reason for giving patients the keys to their PHI. In fact, organizational control of patient health data can cause problems for everyone in the healthcare data exchange chain.

An item found on the Allscripts blog does a nice job of articulating issues that can arise.  According to the blog item, those issues include the following:

  • The patient is in the best position to address inconsistencies in their medical record. For example, if one doctor diagnoses the patient with asthma, then another physician conclusively demonstrates the patient is not asthmatic, the patient can reconcile the two physicians’ conclusions.
  • Patients have a better overview of their care than most doctors. When a chronically ill patient sees multiple clinicians, their impressions may conflict with one another, but the patient can provide context on their overall conditions.
  • If a patient consents to multiple uses of their health data, and the consents seem to be in conflict, only the patient can articulate what their intentions were.
  • If the master patient indexing process generates a false match with someone else’s records, the patient will recognize this immediately, while physicians may not.
  • Giving patients control of the record allows them to decide how long those records should be maintained. Otherwise, HIEs — or other entities not bound by record retention laws — might destroy the data prematurely.
  • When patients have control of their data, they can make sure it gets to whomever they choose. On the other hand, patient data may not make it to other care settings if providers drop the ball.

To be sure, delegating control of their PHI to patients can go too far.

For example, if they’re transmitting most or all of their health data between providers, it could pose a significant administrative burden.  Patients may not have the time or energy to route the data files between their providers, assure that data has been received on the other end and make certain that the data was formatted in a way their clinicians can use.

Also, if the patient is chronically ill and sees multiple providers, they may end up having to manage a large body of data files, and not everyone can do so effectively. Ultimately, they may get too overwhelmed to send their records to anyone, or send the wrong records, which can create complications of its own.

Still, on the whole, healthcare organizations are giving patients more control of their health data for good reasons. When patients take responsibility for their health data, they’re far more likely to understand their condition and take steps to address problems. Establishing a balance between patient and provider control may be tricky, but it can and should be done.

Does EHR Choice Matter for ACO’s?

Posted on November 22, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

There’s a really interesting article on Nextgov that talks about a CSC report that looks at the role of health IT and EHR software in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The most valuable part of the article is this list of items that an EHR must enable or allow to support an ACO:

  • Clinical information and point-of-care automation, with integrated ambulatory and inpatient records and a central repository for clinical data.
  • Enterprise master data management and integration, with a population management repository, a master person index and a master provider index.
  • Tools to enable participation in a health information exchange.
  • Patient engagement tools, including secure messaging, e-visits and tele-visits, social media, patient portals and mobile health applications.
  • Care management and coordination tools, including referral and request tracking, provider-to-provider communication, medication reconciliation and case- and disease-management applications.
  • Performance management tools, including integrated business and clinical intelligence and analytics.

To be honest, as I look through this list of EHR items, I can’t say that any of them really stick out to me as impossible for any EHR to achieve. In fact, I’d say that they’re quite achievable by almost all EHR software vendors.

The only partial fear I have reading through the list is that some of the points depend on an EHR vendor working with other EHR software vendors. In most of the cases, these are large hospital EHR vendors that have often worked in very closed environments.

The reason this is a cause for concern is that even the best EHR software in the world won’t be an effective ACO and won’t meet the above requirements if the large EHR software vendors don’t work with them to connect their system.

Maybe this isn’t something we should be too concerned about since the hospital client will be motivated to get their EHR vendor to work with the other even small EHR vendors in order to make the ACO happen and get access to the extra reimbursement. However, my gut tells me that this won’t be the case and there will be stories where EHR software is basically shut out of the ACO based on the large EHR vendors decision to not work with them.