Mom, pie and YOUR Personal Health Information

We all know the famous Chinese wish “May you live in interesting times.”  When it comes to health information technology, we do indeed live in interesting times–but I hope they aren’t this interesting for too long.

The discussion lately among policy makers, vendors and in the media is about the definition of  “Meaningful Use” as it relates to health information technology.  Last week, the ONC HIT Policy Committee met in Washington to hear revised recommendations for Meaningful Use,  including recommendations from the HIE workgroup and recommendations regarding certification processes for EHRs.  (For an excellent summary of the meeting with respect to Meaningful Use as it relates to Personal Health Records, see John Moore’s post at

To summarize, the recommended criteria for Meaningful Use which are presently on the table for 2011 require qualified health care providers to:

  • Allow patients to access their health records in a timely manner;
  • Develop capabilities to exchange health information where possible;
  • Implement at least one clinical decision support rule for a specialty or clinical priority;
  • Provide patients with electronic copies of discharge instructions and procedures;
  • Submit insurance claims electronically; and
  • Verify insurance eligibility electronically when possible.

There.  Now that doesn’t sound so hard, does it?

Don’t these “new” requirements–particularly access to your personal information, an ability for your care givers to share information, a clinical decision support tool, and the ability to receive treatment instructions electronically–all sound like fundamental criteria for any health care system late in the first decade of the 21st century?

Aren’t these fundamental rights already, driven by consumer demand and common sense–easily expressed and reasonably implemented?

Yet the reality is quite different.  There are a ton of challenging questions that will most certainly be answered in the not-too-distant future; questions of privacy and ownership, the right to change information received from trusted sources, and the economics of providing these services are just some of the discussions to which we will add our voice.

In the following posts, for as long as it takes, we’ll weigh in, sometimes with strong opinions, some times to ask questions as we think it through, and sometimes when we try on an idea only to reject it outright later.  We look forward to the discussion and to your feed back along the way.

So I hope these particularly interesting times don’t last too long.  For me at least, these are as fundamental as mom and apple pie.  So let’s get on with it.  Stay tuned.

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