Using online databases to improve our medical system
Healthcare. If you live in the United States right now (or ever) it’s a hot topic and frankly, a hot mess. Depending on where you fit into the geographic and socio-economic mix, your issues with the current system may range from scrounging to fill a simple prescription, to wow, birthing a baby is expensive even with insurance, to universal healthcare is un-American. In fact, this issue is so contentious, the world’s economic stability was recently held hostage because talking about the health of a nation is, well, it’s just too hard. Setting that aside, all Americans want the same thing when it comes to their health; accessible care delivered expediently and professionally. Properly trained doctors with healing on their minds and comprehensive sense of your health history comes a close second. Well, the cloud and online databases can help give you both.
“Dr. Cloud, report to the ER.”
Who knows how the Affordable Care Act will pan out? It’s not like it works in every other industrialized, democratic nation in the world! Note: Universal Health is available and does in fact work in every other industrialized nation in the world. And whether you’re paying for it or not a national, unified, online databases housing patient information is one giant step toward improving treatment outcomes.
In some ways, healthcare providers are already using online databases to store valuable information in the cloud. But they’re doing it in pieces. Pictures, communication systems, radiology information systems (RIS), healthcare information systems (HIS) and clinical information systems are migrating online for use by physicians and healthcare providers. Researchers at Frost & Sullivan reveal that integration of these systems into a single enterprise-wide solution (online database) available in the cloud can’t come soon enough. Old legacy systems replaced with online databases mean reduced storage, maintenance and training costs and mean one-stop shopping for physicians seeking to access all patient information in one place.
Meanwhile, back in the waiting room
The road to privacy and security of information belonging to both individuals and the nation has been bumpy. The powers that be seem interested in learning about everything from how your kid “bombed” on their math test to what French businesses are ordering for lunch. It’s natural to be curious. But it’s also natural to want your private medical information to stay private—particularly in a non-universal health care environment.
Countries in the early stages of adopting national online databases will surely blaze a best-practices trail for others to follow. In the meantime, concerns about security, operational compliance, training of personnel and migration to a cloud computing model are warranted. Because these systems would be online, slow Internet speeds and poor connectivity present additional barriers to successful implementation. These issues don’t make a national online healthcare database impossible however, they make them an opportunity for quality of care legislation and physician monitoring.
Who is this for?
Presumably, all this effort and overhaul would be for the good of the patient. Doctors with access to a patient’s medical history, particularly in an emergency and especially when you’re unconscious can make highly informed decisions for better health outcomes. A doctor who can immediately access blood type, previous injuries, surgeries and allergies can save time when they’re saving your life.
Try getting that from your HMO.