Overwhelmed. That is the most common response of managers in the health and human service field when you ask them about their data. Most managers are quick to say they are inundated with more data than they know what to do with, leaving them with no way to turn that data into useful information for both their own organization and for their consumers. OPEN MINDS’ Chief Executive Officer Monica Oss wrote about this challenge in a recent piece, No More Unread Books.
Shortly after that article published, we got a very thought provoking response from Jody Powers, a licensed health care insurance consultant. Her take – that while executives and clinical professionals are busy trying to figure out how to use information in their work, short shrift is given to the consumer experience with health data. She wrote:
Keeping our own records can be time consuming and fraught with human error. We forget things, lose information, and often don’t understand what we are tracking. Many patients see their PCP less often than their specialists; or only see them if simple issues may occur. The PCP often does not get all the data from the other specialists and hospitals. What is needed is a personal information electronic repository that houses all of our information online. Even the most mundane records like name, address, health plan etc. should be accessible to eliminate the redundant effort of filling out patient information and history each time you visit a new Dr.’s office or medical facility. Why can’t online information be printed out and have the patient sign off on or make changes to the stored information? This happens in other transactions that rely on our personal data. With all technology we need a standard vendor for EHC data or uniformity.
Many [organizations] have so much information from so many different and confusing data bases, they have no time to figure it all out. They do not use it nor do they understand it. I always wonder, when will it all be under one IT system, used by folks using a passcode and a social security number? When will the merger of all data occur? If we can put our passcodes into our bank accounts, why can’t we at this age do the same with our medical records? There needs to be a joint system where all can come together and work on it over a five- to ten-year span, to work on it for improvement with outcomes and accuracy. Imagine the money that could be saved by individuals, doctors, and hospitals to have all the same information (as the consumer allows them to have it).
I think that consumer ownership of data, consumer portals, personal health records, and a “universal health record system” are potential tools to address the consumer interface with the health data systems. We touched on this topic last fall after listening to Herb Quinde, Director, Public Sector, Microsoft Corporation explain “data liberation” and his idea for a national health identification card, at the 2014 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute (see Using A Data-Driven Approach To Coordinate Care – The Provider Organization Perspective). Mr. Quinde’s national health identification card would serve as a “health care rap sheet” that would have a basic, standard set of critical information about each citizen and use “ubiquitous” data measures. For more on this concept (which may, eventually, change the health care field) and some of the issues surrounding it, check out Stop Integrating Data & Start Liberating Data.
And, for more on recent developments in consumer portals, personal health records, and consumer health data management, check out:
- The Health ID Card: A Double-Edged Sword
- The New Health Care Reality: Consumers Leading The Way
- The Informed Consumer: Developments In Consumer Decisionmaking
- The New Consumer Adage: I Want It My Way & Now
- Building Your Own Tech-Enabled Consumer Base
Addressing the consumer interface with health data is an essential part of understanding the consumer experience. As Ms. Powers rightfully points out, organizations do not use this technology nor do they understand it. For provider organizations, this is the challenge – and an opportunity to provide a superior consumer experience.