Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Would EHRs Matter to Patients?

In my previous post, I said I’d talk next about patient engagement functions that need EHR data vs. those that don’t.

No doubt, there are some “data-less” functions that can still be useful – you need little or no clinical data to request an appointment, e-mail your doc, or a refill (other than your Rx number). Here’s a list, undoubtedly incomplete, of some functions that I think are Not EHR-dependent vs. those that need (or greatly benefit from) EHR data. Several of the items below are “gray areas.”  

Not EHR-Dependent
  • Personal Health Record (PHR) – untethered, if patient is willing to enter the data or settle for existing PHR data feeds (e.g., PBM med history)
  • Patient self-service functions (e.g., schedule appointment, request drug refill, view clinical data, pay bill)
  • Patient-provider communication and collaboration
  • Tools for providers to improve the patient experience
  • Technologies to make healthcare more accessible for patients, e.g., telemedicine, virtual visits
  • Wellness/lifestyle aids (not just "medical", e.g., diet, exercise, recreation)
  • “Find a doctor”
  • Search for alternatives to provide services (e.g., price comparisons for services not covered by insurance)
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Bedside communication with family & friends (e.g., Skype video chat, web access)
  • Notification/invitation to events (free screenings, symposiums, etc.)
EHR-Dependent (some may also be provided by Health Information Exchanges)
  • Patient access to EHR information (e.g., download)
  • Personal Health Record (PHR) – tethered; or untethered PHR with data feeds from EHR (to greatly increase usability)
  • Patient Portal
  • Patient annotations/amendments to their health information
  • Patient provision of information to providers (e.g., home device measurements)
  • Providers pushing information to patients via patient preference
    • Reminder “app” for taking meds, vaccinations, physical exam, etc.
    • Other apps or notifications that help patients follow through with what was prescribed/planned
  • Tools for patients to act upon their data (trackers, analytics, access to knowledge)
So patients can accomplish quite a bit without EHRs. But you have questions about your lab or imaging tests and their significance, or your many medications, it sure would help to have the actual data and not rely on memory. I doubt that you’d get full benefit from your med list unless you also knew about your problems/conditions and diagnostic results. I, for one, wouldn’t want to take subsets of my data and redundantly enter it into a dozen separate websites.

If I’m a patient who wants a comprehensive and integrated view of my data, how might I get that? More on that next time…

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