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Electronic Medical Records

EMRs, EHRs…have been all the buzz in the healthcare world for a while now, as well as a regular part of the conversation about healthcare reform–though it gets much less press than the divisive hot button issues. Like everything in health care, personal issues and concerns make it hard to come to good solutions. And, like much with health care, until you have a problem or encounter with “the system” most people don’t think or care much about it. Then, when you are at the E.R. and can’t recall you last surgery date or name of that medication you take…it hits you what all the buzz is about.

A lot of individual doctors, hospital systems, etc. are ramping up their technology and have gone electronic. One of our local hospital systems even uses a “hand scan” to identify patients and pull up their records. However, because there is no centralized, unified system, the issue really hasn’t been addressed comprehensively. We’re all so mobile now that only something universal/web based really solves this issue. But, there are of course the usual confidentiality and privacy concerns, and the logistics of making it all work together. And as healthcare is currently delivered, it is a pretty fragmented system (just spend some time talking to a doctor’s office about billing and dealing with 100s of different insurers, Medicare, Medicaid, Worker’s Comp, “cash” patients…), adding to the challenge. Not that I’m suggesting we should have one unified system of healthcare (don’t want to start that firestorm here–that’s enough for many entire blogs and there are plenty out there arguing and addressing that issue), but as that discussion continues, this particular issue is clearly part of the picture.

Even though I live and breathe it every day in the work we do, it does take the personal experience to really drive this home. As I prepared for summer travels a while back, it really hit me. We create these great secure, web based records for our clients, and I don’t have one for me! Our clients and their representatives (usually us and maybe their primary caregiver/healthcare surrogate) have easy access to all their information–no more guessing on those surgery dates or trying to recall that medicine. And, wow, my healthcare surrogate paperwork is right here to print out no matter where I end up in the hospital–even if its across the pond. True continuity of care!

The program we use, Life Ledger, is very robust since it was created by people in our field who deal with these issues daily…so it includes “Discontinued Meds” so that you have good background when working with doctors on new medications, what hasn’t worked in the past, etc. And, it has room for “non health” stuff that is often key, like funeral plans, who to contact in different situations, and who are my key advisors, such as my attorney and financial planner. I’m working on learning more about the products by Microsoft and Google and seeing what other systems are out there too. There isn’t one that’s perfect yet, but the way technology moves, it could happen tomorrow. Implementing anything system wide…well, that’s a different story. So, for now, I’ll create my own and continue to do so for our clients so that we’re ahead of the game and not waiting on that to happen…

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