Monday, August 17, 2009

Medical Records

It's worth restating the post on medical records from the point of view of a system engineer.

There is a major push to create a national system for electronic medical records. The reason for the push is that it is a challenge for doctors to get to the data that they need to know about the patient.

Before undertaking a monumental effort of creating an electronic version of the status quo, one should look at the problem as ask the basic question: Why aren't health records organized around the patient in the first place?

If we formed the system of medical records around the dictum "Know Thyself" then we would realize that the patient is the proper owner of their medical records.

Therefore, the ideal health information system would be one that simply made the patient the owner of their medical records.

The Medical Savings and Loan creates a new specialty that I called Health Advocate. This health advocate would be charged with storing medical records for individual people. The advocate would also help with budgeting and planning medical expenses.

So creating a system where the money flows from the patient and the paperwork flows back to the patient, we solve the problem of medical records.

In such a system, it is no longer important if the records are stored in paper or as magnetic charges on a disk. In this system, the health advocate becomes an object that can deliver a patients medical data to a health care provider regardless of the form of the data.

A skilled system engineer knows that it is better to redesign a flawed system from the fundamentals than it is to impose expensive new technology on a broknen.

A quality debate on healthcare reform would start with a push to place greater regulations on a broken third party payment system, but should be about finding patient centric solutions to our health challenges.

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