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Customer Experience and Design

“Help! My Healthcare Choices are Limited Due to Limited Health IT”

This morning I went to my doctor due to some low blood pressure issues. After doing some initial tests, my doctor stated that she needed to refer me to a specialist in Cardiac Electrophysiology. At the end of the appointment, we made our way towards the registration desk to explore our referral options. The receptionist informed us that I could be sent to a specialist at the Ohio Heart & Vascular Center or to Christ Hospital, which had a unit that specialized in Cardiac Electrophysiology. Christ Hospital is ranked as one of the top hospitals in the country for heart care and surgery. It’s well known in my part of the country that if you, or a loved one, are experiencing a sudden heart attack, then you should tell the emergency crew to head over to Christ Hospital.

“No, I can’t refer her to Christ Hospital,” my doctor answered, ” Our data systems are not connected. I’ll never get my data back.”

That’s when my bubble burst.

You must understand that I pick my healthcare providers based on their Health IT prowess. This is not because I’m “in the biz” (as they say). Rather, I am in the biz because I care so much about this topic. I was a child of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, and, therefore, have had my health documented electronically since elementary school (read: a long time ago). Over this vast expanse in time, I have witnessed my doctors share and deep dive into my medical history in a way that is just not available by way of paper records. As such, when I am vetting a new physician my questions typically exceed the “Where did you go to school?” and “How often have you done this type of procedure?” Relevant questions to ask a physician’s practice in this day and age are, “How do you collect my data?” “How do you share that data with me?”, and “How do you share that data with other physicians and researchers?”

My current primary care physician is on an Epic interface and provides me with data using a pretty good attempt at patient portal. I live in a city, Cincinnati, which is home to one of the best HIE’s in our land. Cincinnati’s HealthBridge has been around for over a decade and is one of the nation’s largest, most advanced, and most financially sustainable HIEs available. They have a mission statement to help clinicians make smarter decisions that enhance patient care and lower health care costs.

So, here I am the Health IT enthusiast who has had my healthcare choices limited due to limited Health IT. Have you had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it with a comment below.

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