From Issue #174October 2008
Doc Searls is Senior Editor of Linux Journal
I couldn't disagree more with your conclusions, Doc.
The problem isn't that the hospital IT infrastructure isn't perfect, the problem is that there is an expectation that it should be. That may be hard to swallow, so let me explain...
You wouldn't expect your doctor to say to you, "Well, I asked the cardiologist to email me if he found anything bad in your EKG, there's nothing in my inbox, so I guess you're 100% healthy to go run the New York Marathon!" What if the email is in the SPAM filter? what if the inbox is full? what if the server is down? There are a myriad of reasons where this process could fail. For that matter, this applies to any IT system with the same disastrous results.
The point is the doctors, radiologists, surgeons, specialists and technicians, pharmacists need to be communicating with each other, but it's a fallacy to lay that responsibility at the feet of IT system. It's the job of the IT system to make that EASIER, not see that it is being done.
So what if the systems are disparate and incompatible? If you need to see the MRI, go walk down to the MRI lab and ask them to show it to you on their system. Can't open the XRAY attachment? Walk down to radiology and ask them to bring it up on their equipment. I realize this is a huge PITA, but as you correctly point out, people's LIVES depend on this! What possible excuse can anyone come up with that trumps that? It's too far to walk? I'm too busy? It's too hard? The radiologist keeps trying to fix me up with his sister? Please.
I think a blanket prescription for better technology would only be treating the symptom, and fail to cure the disease.
Amen, the need is huge and the changes that having patient data as well as claims data and every other aspect of the Healthcare as well as Diseasecare online would completely alter, for the better, each of our experiences.
For me as a Physician, it would revolutionize my experience if I could check my schedule, and see which patients I am seeing in coming weeks. It would be great if I could, from almost anywhere, access patient data, update charts, add notes, fax or email or mail out or at least print out documents to help cases along.
I subscribe to several trade journals devoted to healthcare informatics, health data management and other such topics. All those journals are funded largely by megaliths who design EXPENSIVE software to run hospitals and expensive clinics, and which appear, from my view point aimed at enriching them, more than simplifying or smoothing the experience for those hospitals, clinics, doctors, staff and patients.
Where to start though? I am experimenting with a few software packages such as Clearhealth and others, to help wean my office off Windows once and for all, and just run a pure linux environment.
Is there a group of likeminded health care professionals, including nurses, PA, physicians, and others devoted to accelerating the move away from microsoft based systems to linux based?
thanks , It`s So Cool
What a great article. Open source health care advocates should check out an open source Personally Controlled Health Record (PCHR) application at Children's Hospital Boston called IndivoHealth, http://indivohealth.org. It is currently being implemented at Children's Hospital and The Dossia Consortium, http://dossia.org. I would encourage everyone interested in the type of system you described in your article to check out both these websites.
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