When a lack of healthcare interoperability results in physical pain
My father recently had surgery to repair a detached retina. His detached retina.
You see, no pun intended, I did the same thing back in 2011 while playing basketball. As you can imagine, it’s not a fun procedure. But it is a great example of a breakdown in modern day health records.
My father’s vision started to deteriorate, so he met with his eye specialist on late Friday afternoon. The specialist told my father he would need emergency retinal detachment surgery on Monday morning.
Seeing your medical records – clearly
Because his surgery was very early on Monday morning, immediately after the weekend, my father’s family doctor was not available to send his full medical record to the surgeon. This might not always be a big deal, but my father has a history of heart issues, which made the surgeon and anesthesiologist nervous.
Because they did not have his full record, they could not realistically understand how the anesthesia would affect him. So not only is he blind in one eye from his retinal detachment, he is now forced to endure this procedure without anesthesia!
It’s tough to think about having an eye operation while being completely awake and scared out of your skin. Good thing my dad is a tough guy. (Must be genetic.)
The moral of the story is that if health records worked as they should, and one day will, his records would have been accessible and he wouldn’t have suffered through this sight-saving operation. There are many of us in the health information management world who are using innovative solutions to deliver electronic health records that providers can easily share.
Because efficient healthcare isn’t just about empowering physicians and nurses with immediate access to the information they need to make informed decisions, it’s also about delivering that information securely, so providers can deliver the best care possible.
Thank you to my friends and colleagues who are working to achieve healthcare IT interoperability and security, so that our families feel less pain and fear when office hours don’t coincide with our healthcare needs.
Like my father is able to do again, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.