Recently on Health Care IT News, Jeff Rowe wrote an article titled: PHRs: What’s a realistic expectation? In that article, Jeff makes some great points about personal health records and the problems being faced by them in today’s disconnected world of information technology (IT) and healthcare.
Rowe points out that “The problem with health IT policymakers and stakeholders is that they are dedicated to the idea that effective, widespread use of IT can lead to a healthier population.” Being a stakeholder myself, I believe I have a say in this and would be included in Rowe’s remark. What he fails to realize, however, is that everyday people have a stake in this as well. I myself became dedicated to the idea that effective, empowering use of IT can lead to better health. So MedeFile was born. With thousands of subscribers to our software nationally, I can say that many others appear to feel the same way about their health.
The healthcare industry has a big problem. They have a lot of data and the traditional method of throwing a lot of money at it in order to control it isn’t working anymore. The result is potentially life-threatening as Big Data begins to become unwieldy.
Here’s a rundown of the situation:
In health care, there is a lot of recorded information (data) that must be stored and be ready for later retrieval should it be needed. Between the requirements of state and federal governments, the insurance companies, and doing the work of healthcare itself, a lot of information is created. Storing that information is what medical records companies and departments have been doing for years.
Except now the data is becoming so overwhelming that traditional methods aren’t cutting the mustard. Paper records are on their way out ñ anyone who’s even occasionally looking at what’s happening in the medical community can see that. They’re being (and in many cases have already been) replaced by electric records. The trouble is, the older systems for storing those records (generally a primitive type of database) are also becoming overwhelmed.
The slow and steady growth of personal health records (PHR) like MedeFile is largely hampered by one thing: currently, there are few electronic health records (EHR) that are compatible or even capable of directly interacting with most PHR systems. Many doctor’s offices don’t use EHRs at all, in fact, and are instead using paper systems that go to a third party (usually the insurance processor) to create the electronic record.
This makes it very difficult to automate the process of updating a patients personal record with data in real-time. Often it takes days, even weeks to get the new information ñ unless the patient inserts it manually on their own.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed new regulations that would cover certain types of medical applications on the Apple mobile devices platforms (iOS), such as the iPhone and iPad. The proposal does not include MedeFile or software like it, but instead covers only specific apps meant for doctors, clinics and hospitals to use.
Specifically, the proposed regulations are targeted towards mobile applications that can either interface with medical equipment as a control device or that can make the portable device into equipment that falls under FDA regulations for medical devices. The second category is relatively broad and could, potentially, include MedeFile, but is not likely to do so. The regulations are targeted towards a new trend in mobile application development in which iPad and iPhone apps are being used to create portable, integrated medical devices to replace the paper chart and computer terminal in every room of today.