It is well known that patients cannot recall upwards of 40% of medical information that their doctor provided during a consultation. Yet, when they arrive at a new facility for treatment they are expected to recount a lengthy medication history, dates and times of operations and procedures, a list of allergies, and on, and on. In the ideal world that data has preceded their arrival in the form of an electronic transfer. Sadly, the world is far from ideal today.

I have some of my more important medical data in a PHR app. It really is just a subset of the morass of medical records that concern me, and honestly, it’s out of date and not well curated. When I arrive at the doctor and they ask me a question, I fiddle with it for a while before I sigh and put it down. I can never seem to find the desired information fast enough. It’s almost comical watching my doctor bashing away at his laptop while I hunt and peck through my smartphone.

Could my PHR be up to date? Sure, if I could only remember where I’ve been! I’m not a great historian, and even the arrival of a serious medical ailment will probably only make that worse. Think about a patient who is being treated for renal insufficiency or cancer and is suffering from brain fog and general information processing problems. They have less chance of recalling where their data is.

In my work at eHealth Technologies I’ve had to work with the service team as they talk to patients. I recall one patient vividly. He was late stage, looking desperately for help from one of our luminary customers in the oncology space, and he had no earthly idea where his radiology reports were. Our folks worked compassionately with him to get the name of a nearby building, looked up the radiology clinics in the area, and rang each one until we got the studies, because, when you have cancer “I can’t find the record” just isn’t good enough.

So, fast forward ten years to a more connected world. Now the patient’s data can be compared to their social graph.  Each of us will have masses of data connected by relationships of disease and general health that can be viewed from multiple perspectives.  It’s not going to be enough to make the data searchable, now we need to curate, connect, and summarize into useful information.  Will the PHR be able to do this?    My view is no.  This is the role of the clearinghouse and the eHealth Technologies’ of the world.

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