On June 14 at The Washington Post, lawmakers and health care professionals discussed an emerging health-care model that considers the value of care. They also debated the merits and dangers of health data for patients, industry and regulation.
Here are some highlights:
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, a longtime physician, argued that while electronic medical records are helpful, they need to be used with personalized medicine for the sake of physician-patient relationships. “When the doc is looking at the computer screen, and not looking in the patient’s eyes, you’ve lost something,” Cassidy said.
Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the current health-care system needs to prioritize patient needs ahead of billing and logistics.
“It’s really important that the electronic health record serve the doctor and the patient and not vice-versa,” he said, recommending a system where doctors can rate different EMR technologies for effectiveness.
Tom Delbanco, co-director of OpenNotes, a program working to provide patients access to medical records written by their providers, predicted society would eventually move into a system in which the patient is the steward of his or her own health system.
Avi Rubin, director of Johns Hopkins University Health and Medical Security Lab, said there is a balance between usability and stability. “There are patients who are very active in their own treatment and they want to have access but that access has to be provided in a way that somebody else who isn’t authorized to see those records can’t see them,” Rubin said. “For every breach that we know about, I would venture that there are ten that are undiscovered and still out there.”
David Finn of Symantec told us data is the most valuable in the world on the black market. “A credit card may go for a dollar. A medical record will go for fifty times that,” he said. The reason? According to Finn, it’s an industry that isn’t adept at protecting its resources.
Terry Wolpaw of Penn State College of Medicine explained that to prepare for these emerging challenges in health care, we will need to start by altering the curriculum in medical school.
Tom Mason of the Office of the National Coordinator said perspective is important in this moment. “Over the past 7 years we’ve made tremendous strides in really laying out that infrastructure that now we are building upon to make sure that information and data is flowing.”
Kavita Patel, a Brookings Institute fellow and a practicing physician, noted the frustration for patients and primary care physicians who are exhausted and overloaded by the system.
To ease burden on providers, Robert Pearl, executive director of The Permanente Medical Group, provides iPhones to physicians, allowing them to clock 13 million virtual doctor visits a year.