Patients and providers should be able to securely access a patient’s medical record wherever they are. Not having a patient’s full record could result in poor treatment choices and suboptimal patient outcomes. The dream of a seamless, cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR), however, is years away. Consider the example shared by CMS administrator Seema Verma as reported in STAT News:
…Verma…[referenced] the story of her husband’s collapse in an airport last year. She said she did not have easy access to records to share with his caregivers, making it more difficult to quickly determine what had caused his illness.
A bevy of tests eventually helped caregivers reach a diagnosis and deliver treatment that saved his life. But afterward, when Verma asked for his records, she was handed a few sheets of paper and a CD-ROM.
“I’m going to let that set in for a second,” Verma told her audience in Las Vegas. “After the federal government has spent more than $30 billion on [electronic health records], I left with paper and a CD-ROM. Most computers don’t even take CD-ROMs anymore. At a time when we are sending Teslas to Mars, patients are receiving health records in forms that are completely outdated.”
However, CMS is doing something the issue. The Trump Administration announced the MyHealthEData Initiative at HIMSS18. The initiative would give Medicare beneficiaries access to their own claims data throughMedicare’s Blue Button 2.0. Medicare’s EHR initiative would also require providers to use systems that were interoperable with other EHR systems. This is a step in the right direction. Granting access to more claims data for research–in particular Part D data–would also be beneficial as researchers could better understand patients’ real world health experiences.