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Customer Experience and Design

Let’s work on the demise of the healthcare clipboard!

I have always been frustrated by having to fill out the same health history forms at the doctor’s office, emergency room, hospital or out-patient clinic. Honestly, if these healthcare providers are part of a regional healthcare “system” then my information should be shared as easily as giving my consent. Instead, the situation appears to be getting worse. As I get older and I have to see a specialist now and then, out comes the inevitable clipboard. I don’t mind updating my address, phone numbers or insurance information because that makes sense in our mobile (and mobile phone) society. However, I shouldn’t be expected to “stand and deliver” on when each and every surgery or medical procedure that was done in the last five years, especially when I frequent the same hospitals, doctors or labs.

In my view, information and data exchange is critical to the delivery of quality patient care services and effectiveness of healthcare organizations. The benefits of appropriate sharing of health information among patients, physicians, and other authorized participants in the healthcare delivery value chain, are nearly well understood and desired by us regular clients. If my experience is any indicator, few organizations and systems have taken advantage of the full potential of the current state of the art in computer science and healthcare informatics. The solution is a Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) which is an initiative that aligns the areas of technology, interoperability, standards utilization, harmonization, and business information systems necessary to make the elimination of the healthcare clipboard possible.

(Check out our upcoming webinar on HIEs: Harness Clinical and Financial Data with Enterprise HIEs.)

This exchange of information problem is at the heart of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), also known as the “stimulus bill” that was signed into law on February 17, 2009. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is a subset of ARRA that was an “act within the act” embedded in the ARRA legislation. Whereas ARRA includes $787 billion in total economic stimulus for the United States economy, HITECH addresses a subset–about $36 billion in funding–which is specifically aimed at helping healthcare providers obtain meaningful use of health information technology (HIT), including electronic health records (EHRs) and care coordination through a health information exchange (HIE). There you have it, no excuses, funding to make eliminating the healthcare clipboard and improve patient safety a reality.

If we have the technology, and the funding, then what is standing in our way? Unfortunately, my experience says that the final barrier is over-burdened healthcare IT staffs. They are working hard to meet the regulatory pressures to put in clinical data warehouses, implement Electronic Medical Records throughout their organizations and manage the expanding needs for their many software applications to interoperate with one another. In order to take advantage of the HITECH act, these organizations will have to reach outside of the organization for the people and skill sets to implement these Health Information Exchange initiatives. Now is the time to act while the funding is being made available. The only thing we have to lose is the clipboard. Are you ready? I know I am.

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Martin Sizemore

Enterprise Architect with specialized skills in Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Consultant and a trusted advisor to Chief Executive Officers, COOs, CIOs and senior managers for global multi-national companies and healthcare organizations. Deep industry experience as a consultant in manufacturing, healthcare and financial services industries. Broad knowledge of IBM hardware and software offerings with numerous certifications and recognitions from IBM including On-Demand Computing and SOA Advisor. Experienced with Microsoft general software products and architecture, including Sharepoint and SQL Server. Deep technical skills in system integration, system and software selection, data architecture, data warehousing and infrastructure design including virtualization.

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