INTELLIGENCE IN ACTION

Patients Are Carting Paper Records in Three-Ring Binders to the Doctor. We’re Changing That.

April 10, 2019

Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65. And according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, many suffer from chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure (58 percent), heart disease (29 percent) and diabetes (27 percent). Such patients may be in and out of hospitals, on many medications and seeing multiple clinicians and specialists.

“Our patients tend to be pretty sick,” according to Dr. Shaun Miller, Associate Chief Medical Information Officer, Cedars-Sinai Health System. “And between those hospitalizations, they can be seeing a few providers…When you’re seeing that patient, you get that call from the emergency room and you want to quickly assess that patient, the more data the better, the faster the better.”

At HIMSS19, Surescripts invited Dr. Miller and other members of our Network Alliance to talk about the challenges around healthcare interoperability, as well as the progress they’ve seen with technologies that advance record location and exchange on a national scale. And how all of this impacts the patients they care for.



“I think you’re hitting on a very important point,” said fellow panelist Dr. Nitu Kashyap, Associate Chief Medical Information Officer at Yale New Haven Health, which has used Surescripts Record Locator & Exchange to locate clinical documents for patients in 49 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. “The sicker the patient, the more the need to automate some of that information exchange.”

Furthermore, we’ve long stopped following the lifestyles of previous generations, living from cradle to grave in one particular location, seen by the same doctor over many years. We move. A lot. We travel for business, to downsize or move up, to be closer to our aging parents or grandchildren. All of which can make it harder for clinicians to access our care histories and medical records across years, months, even weeks.

Given these societal and cultural trends, it’s more critical than ever for care providers to quickly assess a patient’s care history, whether they show up for a routine checkup or in the ER. And being able to do so isn’t “a nice to have.” Accessing accurate, patient-specific clinical histories can be a matter of life and death.

Dr. Kashyap shared a story about a young patient with Lupus who had come from out of state. She visited the Yale New Haven Health transplant clinic and provided little information other than that she was on dialysis. But in the course of reviewing her records, which was facilitated by Record Locator & Exchange, the transplant team discovered she had a blood clot in her heart. This discovery changed the treatment plan to include a blood thinning medication during transplant.

The burden should be on us, not patients, to deliver their clinical histories at the point of care, said moderator Tara Dragert, Vice President of Product Innovation at Surescripts, noting how, all too often, we’ve heard about patients having to cart around notes and papers and three-ring binders with their clinical and medical records.

But technologies such as Record Locator & Exchange are changing that dynamic.

“We've been able to walk the hallways, talk to physicians and understand stories of how they're using the service,” she said. “It has been the most humbling experience for us to hear the impact.” 

Tune into the highlights from the panel to learn more.

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