Facebook as a Model for Electronic Health Records?

Guest post by Tim Scott, chief operating officer, American Medical Software.

Throughout the technological age we are currently living in, the advances in medical technology have gone far beyond what was once considered possible. Thanks to the introduction of the Internet and smart phones, information has become more readily available then ever before. Social media platforms have also made it possible for us to personally connect with people across the globe. These advances have shaped the way medical field has stored and held information. Medical providers are increasingly realizing the advantages of switching to electronic heath records (EHRs) as opposed to traditional pen and paper patient records. EHRs allow patient records to be more readily available, allowing for better office efficiency and patient relations.

The Old: Provider-centric EHR Software
However, patient convenience is still a factor within EHR technology that needs improvement. In today’s society, it has become the expectancy to be able to find information on the go at the touch of our fingertips. This is especially true when the information they are in search for is relevant and relates to them. Unfortunately, EHR features have become focused on billing and coding, as opposed to being more patient centric. This is a result from physicians being typically paid based on the exams and procedures performed during an office visit. Physicians need their software to document complex billing codes to ensure they’re properly paid.

It’s Time for EHR Software to be Patient-centric
It’s time EHR vendors stride towards the next evolutionary step to becoming patient-centric. This problem can be solved by following the lead of an outside innovator in sharing and viewing information about individuals: Facebook. Facebook is the front-runner for social media platforms, and their results show. Facebook is the fourth most valuable brand in the world; so clearly, there is something about this technology and interface that people appreciate.

In addition to continuing to streamline billing and workflow, EHR software could additionally help patients have more ownership of their own health records. If EHR software adopted an interface similar to Facebook, individual patient users would be able to quickly retrieve medical information as well as display it for others. Patients could provide a more in-depth “about me” portion on their homepage, which could also include information such as past medical history, drinking/drug habits, smoking habits, weight, blood type, height, family history, health care provider and all other information usually asked when first arriving to a doctor. Each individual would have an electronic health record timeline that is easily accessible by medical providers as well as trusted individuals/family members for each profile. Photos could also be attached that display x-rays taken and other medical pictures or diagrams. This will be valuable to not only the patients who will now be able to read full reviews and results, but also other medical providers to see a patients’ medical history.

Of course, one would not want all of his or her medical information to be readily available to everyone. Privacy settings would need to be strictly implemented and enforced, allowing only trusted medical professionals access to certain information. Ensuring security and privacy would ultimately be the largest hurdle for an implementation of this type of model.

We can expect to continue to see advances in technology, which will continually create changes in medical technology. Information handling will continue to adapt and evolve, including that of our medical records. As EHR vendors it is our responsibility to always be thinking of whom the real end customer is, the consumer. If we as EHR vendors take care of the customer, everybody is a winner.

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