Automation of personal health records has been a goal for years for a variety of reasons, including to improve management of patient care, improve the efficiency of healthcare professionals, and reduce operating costs. For the individual patient, having an automated record would enable a person to provide personal medical information to providers of choice without having to go through the laborious process of gathering paper files from multiple sources in order to obtain the desired care. Additional reasons for solving current healthcare data-sharing problems were detailed yesterday in this article by former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
Electronic health records are still not widely available due to complexity, lack of uniform standards, and privacy concerns. The Trump Administration is deeply involved in bringing the goal of individual electronic health records for Americans to fruition, as noted in this Monday op-ed in USA Today:
Two years ago, we launched the MyHealthEData initiative, a “whole of government” strategy to put patients at the center of the health care system, by empowering patients with control over their own health care data. In response, we have worked with experts across the country to develop specific reforms and programs to achieve these important goals, including Federal use of industry-leading APIs and other technical standards that empower patients with secure access to their Medicare claims data.
The Trump administration is now taking action to ensure that every American has secure access to their own health records. First, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is implementing provisions from the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act that will lead to transformative reforms in the ways that patients can access and control their own health care information. Patients will be able to use smartphones and modern software apps to securely access and consolidate medical information from different health care providers, and entrepreneurs can develop apps tailored to patients’ medical conditions and specific needs. Second, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring that all health plans doing business in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, and Federal exchanges ensure patients have safe and secure access to their health data. Taken together, these reforms will deliver on the promise to put patients at their center of their own health care — you are empowered with control over your own health care choices.
The key sentence is “secure access to their own health records.” Here is what I’d like to see happen:
- Standardization of data elements, fields, formats, and definitions in a “common Electronic Health Record (EHR)” in order to promote interoperability and understanding among healthcare providers.
- Enhanced electronic security through the use of encrypted file transfer to preclude unauthorized access to a person’s EHR. All EHRs encrypted and a feature used in electronic banking implemented such that an individual has to authorize a healthcare provider’s access via a 6-digit code that changes for each attempt to access the EHR.
- An individualize/personalized EHR that a person has control of and access to for life.
The Trump Administration is about solving problems on behalf of the American people, not kicking cans down the road for others to tackle. The skeptics never thought a trade deal with China was possible, yet Phase I of the deal was concluded several weeks ago. Same for the US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) and moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It’s an excellent sign that President Trump’s “Mr. Fixit,” Jared Kushner is personally involved in the MyHealthEData initiative. That means there’s a great chance that it will get done.