Most of us have heard the fairy tale about Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Robert Southey. In the story, Goldilocks enters what seems like a hospitable (no pun intended) dwelling where she takes advantage of three options available to her.

In today’s health care environment, providers often find themselves in Goldilocks’ situation except that their three options relate to health care information. This became almost painfully clear to me when I talked to my peers at a Millennium Alliance Healthcare Transformation Assembly.

Consider the following scenarios:

1) Too Big: According to the research firm IDC, the volume of health data being created is growing at an annual rate of 40 percent. This sometimes translates into too much patient information, perhaps more than the physician needs or knows what to do with it. More systems then need to be developed to help physicians glean the necessary information out of the system and overcome the TOO MUCH information challenge. Treating a patient based on relevant data is impossible.

2) Too Small: With so many systems available to providers and multiple providers involved in a patient’s care, the information may be stored in multiple systems. Robert Rudin, a researcher at RAND, was quoted in a U. S. News & World Report article highlighting patient’s expectations regarding the availability of their record at the time of their visit. As Mr. Rudin says, and based on my medical experience and the work that I am currently doing, the fragmentation of a patient’s record across multiple systems and providers presents a problem of too little information. Providing record aggregation functionality and access to HIEs helps to overcome the TOO LITTLE information challenge.

3) Just Right: Even if the correct amount of information is provided, the physician still needs to spend time culling the relevant information instead of spending more time with patients. Ultimately, more time with the record and less time with the patient impacts patient satisfaction and outcomes. Automating the indexing of the patient record helps overcome the JUST RIGHT but not enough time challenge.

I have a renewed commitment to provide the right information at the right time to treat the patient. Will you join me in this quest?

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