By Sandy Phillips, CIO, HIE Networks.
The patient was prepped and ready on the operating table when the surgeon realized he only had a report of a CT scan and would need the actual images that were taken by another health system to successfully perform the procedure. Normally, this would either delay the surgery or tempt the doctors to try the procedure without all the relevant information.
Luckily for everyone involved, the hospital was a participant of a health information exchange (HIE). Within a few minutes, the surgeon had access to the necessary images through our secure portal and began a successful operation.
Interoperability is critical for planned and unplanned procedures. Today, COVID-19 patients often enter a hospital short of breath in desperate need of emergency attention – yet, as many hospitals work now, that patient is expected to produce their extensive medical record of allergies, conditions, medications, and previous operations while gasping for air.
Although medicine continues to greatly advance, most care providers still dwell in the world of dinosaurs: faxing, printing, burning CD-ROMs, and relying on the patient’s ability to produce medical histories.
A recent report by the National Academy of Medicine found that workflow and inadequate technology usability were major factors contributing to America’s alarming medical staff burnout rate. Customers who use modern network technology greatly benefit from seamless access to patient files that used to lie beyond their health system’s servers, easily communicating between other healthcare providers and patients themselves. Patient care is hard enough today without technical and communication failures.
While the federal government is ushering the medical records system into the 21st century through new interoperability and patient access rules going into effect in 2021, providers would do well to stay ahead of mandated changes before it’s too late.