Colleague in patient empowerment Susannah Fox e-mailed me this question and so we thought we’d start one.
Is it cliche to say that this is evolutionary, not revolutionary? I think it’s of benefit to patients and our profession that a dialogue has started around moving health care data in a standardized way to a place where people can aggregate and do things with it to improve their health. A year or two ago, it was hard to think about a standardized extract of a medical record that you could send from an EHR system except in very specialized situations. Now you can do with several partners, Google being the most recently announced option.
I didn’t even think about writing a special post about it, even though I thought, “Cool, this work will support the ideas I am exploring with the California Healthcare Foundation, that patients can be involved and active in their care, across health environments (health system, work, play).” So rather than writing about it, I just incorporated the possibility into the work we’re already doing, which is great.
I think of privacy as a state of being that allows a person to feel comfortable seeking health care regardless of the issue. This is a good place to be, and when that state of being doesn’t exist, people will seek it out, even if it means not seeking needed care, which could be devastating both to patient and health system. At the same time they seek comfort, they also want to build confidence in their ability to manage their health by having as much information their care as possible. In systems where patients have good access and trust, the care is better, and it feels great (and is great) to provide and receive care in that setting. Both things are important, we should not sacrifice one for the other; every patient deserves to achieve their life goals through optimal health.