The American EHR Could Be about to Change

Americans should have a single, cloud-based electronic health record that follows them throughout their lives from clinician to clinician, a top tech policy official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said recently.

“I believe every American should have a single, unified electronic health record system that resides in the cloud and is under full control of the patient, of the individual, of the American,” John Fleming, HHS deputy assistant secretary for health technology, said at a Georgetown Law event.

Fleming, a Republican who represented Louisiana in the House before taking his post in March, believes that doctors should have their own versions of a patient’s record, but the patient should own it and have easy access.

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“You go from Dr A to Dr B, and how do you get that information that’s maybe accumulated over the many years? And how do you get it in a format that’s easy for that doctor to use?” he questioned.

Fleming added: “That’s a big challenge, but think about the benefits of that, that each time you go to a provider, the new information is pushed back up to the single, unified health record.” But “of course that creates more challenges when it comes to security and privacy.”

The level of record transfer from physician to patient and then back to physician that Fleming is talking about, is currently not possible. True healthcare interoperability is something we have not yet achieved, and despite recent advances, we face further challenges ahead.

At the moment the American EHR is not a consistent thing between patients; different healthcare systems and providers are using different electronic systems, and it’s clear that we need to integrate them to also for the seamless transfer of data.
On this subject, Fleming commented; “We go to the internet and you have Apple talking to Microsoft,” he said. “Well in the world of health care records, it just doesn’t work well at all.”

We’ll definitely be watching what happens over the coming months and years. Fleming recently explained that he has employed some of the world’s experts in tackling interoperability, so we’re hoping for big things!