Our Health, Our Way
By Jason Province
Recent years have seen many new forms of technology and personal management advances. We can start our cars remotely from our phones. We can turn on and off our lights and sinks from our phones. We can even manage our bank accounts and our stocks from our phones. Tablets and the new smart watches give us even more options for managing our daily lives. All these advances have been widely popular and have lead us to an age where new technology comes out yearly.
Some things in our lives, however, seem to be absent from the advances around us. Personal health is peaking as a global interest as more and more applications and diet plans flood the market. You can track your food intake, your exercise routines, your water intake, and share this information with others. As intriguing as these applications are, they are still only a small step towards controlling our personal health. For several years now, healthcare facilities have been able to share information with each other over a shared network. So individual clinics and specialist offices can share information directly with your primary care provider by placing information into a shared network. This works when hospitals and clinics choose to use the same system and give access to each other. It has allowed for our healthcare professionals to look over each other’s notes and suggestions without having to call or wait for a fax to receive important and sometimes urgent information.
The shared network has been time saving and has overall improved the communication between our care providers. What about us, though? Why can’t we see the notes or shared comments between our providers? Isn’t it our personal information that is being shared back and fourth between our healthcare providers? Until recently we have not been able to view our personal files held at the healthcare facilities we utilize. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is leading the way with a pilot program that allows patients access to their electronic health records.
BIDMC is one of the health systems introducing the pilot program called OurNotes. OurNotes is made possible by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund for $450,000. OurNotes allows patient’s access to their EHR’s where they can view their personal information and doctor’s notes about their health. Patients can even take the initiative to write their own notes in the system and can even send messages to their care providers.
“We believe that OurNotes, which will enable patients to contribute to their own medical records, has the potential to further enhance communication and engage patients in managing illness more effectively and efficiently, leading to improved patient safety and quality of care and potentially, to lower healthcare costs,” said Jan Walker, RN. Jan Walker is a part of the research team for BIDMC and one of the co-directors of OurNotes (http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/hospital-let-patients-add-own-ehrs).
The Commonwealth fund will provide the funds from the grant to five different sites, which include BIDMC, Mosaic Life Care, Geisinger Health System, Group Health Cooperative, and Harborview Medical Center. The plan is to work with patients and clinicians on the design process. The initial focus will be on primary care and designers will ask both the healthcare providers and patients what kinds of options they would like to see on OurNotes.
“We know that increasing patient engagement is a critical component of improving health care, and we hope to build on BIDMC’s well-established work in this area,” said Anne-Marie Audet, MD, Vice President at The Commonwealth Fund. “This research will explore the potential for OurNotes to help improve care among the most medically complex patients-those with multiple chronic health conditions (http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/hospital-let-patients-add-own-ehrs).
It is programs like this that will finely move the management of our personal health into the new age of technology that has been around since the early 2000’s. Being able to directly take charge of our health and be involved in the process through each step not only makes the costs we pay for doctor visits less of an issue but allows for communication between visits or even after visits if you left out information or had a question. As the program progresses and testing is done we will see how effective personal management can be and what critics have to say about it. For more information on OurNotes and where we got our information used in this blog visit http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/hospital-let-patients-add-own-ehrs.