Data

The long and winding road to patient data interoperability

Rachel Z. Arndt of Modern Healthcare:

“Most of the time when Dr. James Tcheng gets a new patient from outside of Duke Health, he starts with a bundle of paper. After his secretary receives a patient’s records—either directly from another doctor’s office or after a request is faxed—and opens them, Tcheng goes through the information, with a sheet of 8½ x 11 paper at his side for taking notes. He starts, usually, with the summary notes. Sometimes, almost all of what he reads is irrelevant. But he must go through everything nevertheless, making sure he misses nothing.

“It’s one of the things that causes me to turn over in bed at night,” said Tcheng, an interventional cardiologist at Duke Health. “I wonder, did I miss something? What should I have been looking for? What wasn’t even said?”

Interoperability, that oft-promised, long sought-after state of data fluidity, has yet to fully arrive in patient records. Too often, patient data move only after someone—a patient, a nurse, a doctor—makes a few phone calls and faxes, stumbling a few times.”

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