Nothing Personal

Center for Information Therapy disclaimer: This post was written by Cindy Throop and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Center for Information Therapy.

-3I agree that getting personal is not productive. But I guess that depends on what you are talking about. The health care system is broken, but it is not the fault of any single person or entity. Getting personal in this sense does not help move things forward.

So, what *is* personal?  How about the information in the pictures below?

This is Regina Holliday’s husband’s most basic – and important – health
information.  It is on display at Pumpernickel’s Deli in Washington,

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*Why is his personal health information on public display?*

Did I mention it is a mural?  A permanent mural?  It is the first of a series of public medical murals.  Regina is making a point.  This representation of a single page document is what she has been desperately needing for the last two months.

If this information had been available to her, her story would be less horrific.  If the medical professionals who had been taking care of her husband had known this basic information, things would have turned out differently.

By differently, I mean better.  Certainly a heck of a lot better for her husband, who had a distended bladder that went untreated until he was transferred to a different medical facility.  It was documented in his EHR on several occasions, the most recent entry indicating his bladder was “dangerously” distended.

Why wasn’t he treated at the first facility?  Probably because this basic and critical information was buried in his “electronic health record.”  It was, for all intents and purposes, inaccessible (except for billing purposes).  To make matters worse, she was told she would have to wait 21 days for his medical records.  Twenty one days is a long time to wait for treatment for a dangerously distended bladder.

*We are in the midst of defining meaningful use.*

In response to Regina’s story, Ted Eytan asked a great question: Is it meaningful if patient’s can’t use it? (http://www.tedeytan.com/2009/05/28/3086) I would like to add a second question.  Is it meaningful if no one (including medical professionals) can easily access it in a timely manner?

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