How to better navigate new traffic patterns in health information management
Traditional avenues for healthcare consumers have been slowly changing over the past several years. Much like altering a metropolitan area’s traffic patterns, these changes take years of planning, resource shuffling and, at least initially, user confusion.
When the endgame is more convenient information access and happier users, such sacrifices are more than worth it. But, that doesn’t make it any easier for users to navigate during the early stages.
While the changes for healthcare consumers are still taking shape, there is a definite theme emerging. Instead of the traditional hospital/physician office home base model, we’re seeing a “patient home base” concept developing.
Giving patients more control over their healthcare information
At a recent American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Learning Series event, I participated in a dialogue about the changes happening in our care delivery system and what healthcare information systems are doing to meet those needs. While the hospital executives in attendance had varying ideas of what the landscape would ultimately look like, offering patients a “home base” was a critical piece of it – one that hospitals would NOT be offering.
Five groups of experts drew up five different diagrams ranging from “spoke-and-wheel” to “gatekeeper” models to explore what this new system might look like. In each scenario, the patient had control of his or her healthcare. Home care, community health centers, discharge planning and follow-up emerged as the disciplines through which the majority of care would be delivered.
Soon, what has been widely regarded as the center of patient care will shift. Hospitals will no longer be “keepers of the patient record.” The way we store and access patient information will change, too.
It has to.
Bridging the information gaps
While providing patients with more control over their healthcare is a good thing, as a Health Information expert, I can say with certainty that a patient in charge of his medical record can be a dangerous thing. Components of the full patient “story” become sprinkled all over town, and quite possibly all over the country. And, as patients move throughout the continuum of care, there needs to be a way to offer clinicians access to all of it, not only for quality of care, but also to comply with federal regulations.
I’m not sure there’s ever been a more relevant time for enterprise content management (ECM) in healthcare.
With ECM bridging the gaps that exist among the disparate systems dotting the health information management landscape, patients are healthier, happier and likely to be more compliant participants in their care journeys. ECM is the most reliable and accurate way to bring the complete patient record together for clinicians, allowing them to view the information that was gathered across town, or in another part of the world, from within their organization’s electronic medical record.
Missing information, redundant testing and incomplete documentation disappear – along with the guesswork.
We don’t travel in a perfect healthcare delivery system and we likely never will. But, as new healthcare information traffic patterns continue to move us toward full access to our clinical information, we can certainly look to ECM to make the trip a little better on our way to the ultimate destination: improved outcomes for individuals and overall improved population health.