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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

19.2 Billion or 20 bucks?

The government has mandated that all medical records be converted from paper to digital records over the next few years. They have also budgeted 19.2 billion dollars in stimulus money to be handed out to help defray the cost of doing so. Those are your tax dollars by the way. The cost could rise to over 27 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

"A big part of where the government is going is to try to make the data flow more freely amongst providers and hospitals so that your data goes with you instead of staying with the hospital or doctor," said Dr. Michael Swiernik, UCLA Director of Medical Information.

Sounds great, right? But what actually has to happen to make it work?

Currently, some hospitals are making their patient information systems available to their participating doctors so the medical records can be shared and updated between them. It’s a start but not how the program is supposed to work. See Dr. Swiernik’s statement above. Your data is supposed to go with you, not just “staying with the hospital or doctor”.

For the program to work as proposed there has to be a centralized data base that contains all of the electronic medical records for every patient that is accessible by every doctor, clinic, hospital etc. Also, each doctor, hospital, clinic etc. must update the database anytime the patient’s information changes. Updates are the easy part.

Each health care provider must input the patients’ information to create the database. There is the rub. Who goes first? Who starts the process of putting your medical records into the database? How is the database accessed? What equipment is required? How does your doctor get registered as an authorized health care provider in the system?

Do you think that your doctor has the staff or the time and equipment to input every one of their patients' information into that database? Probably not.

Here is a simple $20 solution to a multi billion dollar problem - Code Amber Alertag.

My personal medical records are available to any doctor, hospital, emergency room, EMT or clinic I choose to give access. Anywhere in the world.

When I got my Alertag I simply went to the web site and entered my personal medical information into the secure (256 bit encryption – just like my bank) server. There are two types of information, public and private.

The public information is accessible by entering my ten digit security code on the secure web page and is intended to be used by emergency personnel, like EMT’s and emergency room staff, if I am in an accident or otherwise incapacitated. Public information includes any allergies, conditions, treatments or my current medications. This information enables emergency personnel to treat me appropriately based on my current information.

The public information also provides emergency contact information so they can contact my wife for access to my private records, by entering my PIN on the secure web site, if I can’t give it to them and they need additional information on my conditions. And my wife will be glad to know where I am and that I am being taken care of properly.

My private medical records area contains extensive information regarding my medical history over my entire life time. All of this information I entered myself, including images of old x-rays, and now can be maintained by me and my doctors.

Of course I also got Alertags for my wife, my daughter, son-in-law and my two beautiful granddaughters.

To sum it up we are in total control of our personal medical records and you can be too. They are available instantly anywhere in the world and it only cost me 20 bucks each.

So that’s how you can solve a 19 billion dollar problem with a $20 product.

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