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Personal Healthcare Data

Hospital Emergency RoomSeems like healthcare issues are being discussed in the media everyday. The bad news is that there are medical errors and runaway costs that are becoming painfully more obvious. The good news is that hospital management is working very hard to improve their systems, community doctors are beginning to invest in more automated systems, and the governments of the world are very focused on standards for healthcare information. It is a long process but it is happening. IT vendors are very focused also. In the U.S., healthcare expenditures are nearly $2 trillion. It is estimated that 20% of that is for duplicate procedures. A good chunk of the $400B in duplication can be saved through improved IT systems.
IBM has been making a large investment in healthcare solutions that use it’s software, systems, and technology. More importantly the company acquired Healthlink, along with 600 of the top healthcare thought leaders in America. IBM has just released a new seventy-two page report called Healthcare 2015: Win-win or lose-lose? (Please note that the pdf file is 3 megabytes in size). The report describes a "portrait and a path to successful transformation" that will become a "how to" book for many healthcare leaders around the world. Some of the background and statistics cited will really get your attention — like the World Health Organization rating the United States #37 in the world on overall health system performance.
Most of us have experienced the duplicate data problem. A doctor finds it easier to order a new blood test than to get the data from a blood test you had a few days before. As consumers we are finding the data to be out of our reach. Blood tests start with blood which then goes into analytical equipment which creates digital information about the blood. The best "data" you can hope for is to get a faxed copy of the results. Contrast this with the financial part of our lives where millions of people use various software to download, record, store, analyze, and review every detail of their financial life. When it comes to data about our health we are mostly isolated — even though it is our data. This is going to change dramatically as standards and online systems emerge for EMR’s (electronic medical records). EMR’s will enable us to get control over our health data and also allow healthcare providers to have access to it — authorized by us as we see fit. There are many resources available about EMR’s if you want to learn more. In fact, you can securely store and manage your personal health records for free at myNDMA. The site allows you to access your medical images — for example, mammograms and other x-rays — and electronic health records whenever you need them. You can also document your personal and family medical history and have your records available to you on-demand to give to a new doctor or to get a second opinion. One step closer to getting control of our health data.

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