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Sharing Your Information

Mental health and addictions professionals require tools. For a couple decades, Terry McLeod has been a trailblazer providing those tools in the form of Electronic ...Read More

I have a beef with every doctor’s office I’ve ever been to except one. It’s those forms I have to fill out and papers I have to bring when I come in for an appointment. They have all the information in (or available to) their computers, yet they insist on wasting ink…and I wonder how they can read my handwriting these days anyway.

There is no point to it or reason for it. My health information could be printed out for a quick review easily enough, or just left on the screen. If the professional treating me wants to know the results of an excursion to another sort of healthcare provider, that information’s available electronically, too.

Health Information Exchange (HIE) has been around a long time, and these organizations specialize in security of our health information while sharing it among professionals treating us. Information on my address, health conditions, or prescription for a psychotropic drug is nobody’s business except professionals who treat me, and I really want that information shared securely to those folks. Since treatment is so disparate, it’s good to know that the physical health doctors, hospitals and mental health and addiction treatment facilities we use can access a medication list, or a discharge summary from other providers.

I believe our body, mind and spirit are all connected, and if I’m unconscious or incapacitated when brought in for treatment, people treating my body may need to know what’s been going on with treatment for my mind…I’d rather not be subjected to a bad drug-to-drug interaction or mis-diagnosis of a symptom. HIEs go a long way toward eliminating possible problems like these, simply by sharing personal health information among professionals.

It’s a bonus that the HIE can share my address and phone number so I don’t have to write it down on that silly form. Still, I see that only at the VA because it’s a monstrous healthcare system that has concentrated on the Electronic Health Record (EHR) for decades, and my data is available coast to coast, only to professionals who I want to see it.

A lot of care providers simply don’t belong to the exchanges and aren’t about to turn lose of the monthly fee to pay for that sort of security and efficiency…they’d rather send a fax when sharing health information. Investing a few moments investigating could put dollars back into the professional’s pocket. InformationWeek shared that Dr Mark Sandcock’s primary care practice in South Bend, Indiana saved $1 Million in the first year of working with an HIE. So, his patients benefited, and presumably, so did his family with holiday gift giving.

Lab results can drag out treatment simply because the information takes a while to travel between healthcare organizations and get processed…outpatient addiction treatment facilities have learned that getting urine toxicology results quickly when testing for abused substances helps confront the consumer quickly, which aids treatment. The paperwork and people involved in getting the information between the healthcare facility and the lab and re-recording results in patient charts, also adds to the cost of healthcare, and that affects the price tag when we go for help. Experiences like Dr Sandcock’s give me hope that the healthcare system may actually be coming around to better serve consumers and prices may actually stabilize.

HIEs are growing, and the string of positive outcomes is impressive, from prompting better healthcare decisions because folks who treat us being able to see our medication history to quick receipt of lab data. One factor really stands out for me: soon, I won’t have to fill out those silly forms when I go to an appointment, even if I’ve never seen the professional before.

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