The current state of patient processes…
My experience with the process
On my first visit to my primary physician, I filled out a several page form providing information that he may need to treat me. Things like surgeries, diseases, parent’s health history, current medications, vitamins and the like. One of his employees typed this information into their electronic system.
I had been having some back issues and we decided that I should visit a Neurologist. Upon that visit, I was handed a several page form similar to the one handed to me by my primary physician. One of their employees typed this information into their electronic system.
The Neurologist arranged for me to get an MRI done on my back. Upon that visit, I was handed a several page form similar to the one handed to me by my primary physician. Unlike the last two doctors, their employee actually typed up the information while I watched.
Some obvious problems
– I could have typed in the information myself.
– My physician could have sent the information ahead so that no one had anything to do.
– There are now 3 different versions of my records in 3 different places.
– If I change physicians, does my old one send his files to the new one? Does he delete the files? Can he legally delete the files?
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] – A major goal of the Privacy Rule is to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected while allowing the flow of health information needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being. The Rule strikes a balance that permits important uses of information, while protecting the privacy of people who seek care and healing.
Various medical records keeping software may not easily pass information from one to the other. This may require some integration work.
The processes in place are informal. HIPAA requires that physicians have a process in place to protect the privacy of its patients. An audit will require them to prove that the process is being followed.
Customer [patient] centric solution
The time is right for the larger medical centers to look at their patient processes from a customer point of view. There are many things they can do to improve the patient experience that won’t cost a lot of money. A few suggestions include:
1) Patients could fill out the forms online
2) The patient could carry a paper copy of the previous forms filled out to the next doctor’s appointment
3) The patient could allow [approve] his doctor forwarding their medical information to the next doctor
4) The patient could create and keep a standard medical form and provide it either in hard copy, Email or thumb drive
After they have made improvements, they can look at software offerings that can automate much of these activities.
Contact me if you would like to dig deeper into your processes…