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It’s a perennial complaint – especially by patients with serious medical conditions requiring ongoing treatment – that they see themselves losing control of the situation in which they find themselves.    To that are added 2 principal concerns.    First, how is the whole situation going to be “managed” from a financial perspective?- a la the cost of treatment, inability to earn income, attending to daily routine matters, etc. etc.   Secondly, and no less importantly, patients are frustrated by medical and hospital record-keeping systems being inadequate with the result that things simply “fall between the cracks” .  The patient’s needs are then often not appropriately addressed.

Leaving to one side that the “system” is simply not geared to assist patients in the myriad of ways they might need apart from their medical requirements – think, for example, securing financial advice, obtaining legal advice and getting documents such as powers of attorney (medical and otherwise) prepared and how is the whole situation in which the patient finds her or himself to be dealt with domestically from a practical point of view – the starting point for any patient should be taking control of their own medical details and records.

For a patient embarking on cancer treatment (which may be for many months, being pregnant or ongoing heart issues) the ability to effectively communicate and inter-act with their clinician or hospital must see a win-win for both patient and the medical “side”. Keeping a diary might be one thing, but being able to provide the medico or hospital with a short spreadsheet-like document which succinctly records how the patient has been “doing” and questions and comments can only be a plus in the “management” of the patient.

What needs to be remembered in all of this is that medicos and hospitals are busy and record-keeping at both are far from ideal, let alone readily accessible – and the patient in an unfamiliar milieu apart from likely suffering from poor memory (what was I going to “report” and ask?) and white coat syndrome.

HealthBank provides the perfect solution for the patient to present at a clinician or hospital armed with important information, comment and questions.       Easy to print out or even email ahead of a consultation or hospital visit.     In addition to this practical way of assisting the patient in her or his inter-activity with the medico or hospital, is the ability with LifeBank to have one’s medical information and reports at immediate hand.    To rely on the medico or hospital to have it is being unduly optimistic.       Let FierceHealthcare have the last word on the subject of electronic health records:

“But EHRs [Electronic Health Records] -the cornerstones of HIE and interoperability -are still faltering. The systems still can’t adequately support patient safety research, despite their vast repositories of data, a recent study found. The researchers were unable to access some of the data, the data itself was too variable to make automated comparisons and IT personnel had competing priorities, most notably the Meaningful Use program requirements and EHR upgrades. While patient improvement research should be a priority, the researchers stated, it’s not.

Then there’s a scathing viewpoint article from doctors at Stanford University School of Medicine and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Menlo Park, California lamenting that while physicians are increasingly dependent on EHRs for diagnosis, monitoring and treatment in this ever more complex clinical environment, the software systems don’t support them. EHRs, they said, haven’t kept up with the technology, can’t integrate generalized information about patients at risk, don’t include social and behavioral factors and are overloaded with alerts and workload interruptions.

The authors added that EHRs were built for billing, not treatment, that doctors are “building resentment” against the “shackles” of EHRs and that “every additional click inflicts a nick on physicians’ morale.” Ouch.”