Monday, April 01, 2013


During a recent visit to my cardiologist, he asked me if my primary care physician had checked my cholesterol levels.  He quickly caught himself and remembered that by means of his recently installed computerized medical record system, he could just look it up.  It turns out that although the cardiology group to which he belongs and my PCP’s group are separate organizations, they were using the same system and could connect to each other. 

There has been lots of talk about the interconnectivity of medical records, but that was the first time I have seen it in practice.  The benefit was obvious.  Without it, my cardiologist would either have repeated the test or faxed the question to my PCP, who would have had to look it up and then fax him back.  As it was, the entire exercise took half a minute – possibly less.   

But the experience also illustrated the difficulty of developing interconnectivity on a large scale.  There are a jillion medical record systems out there but they are not able to communicate.   

In all the palaver about the subject, I have yet to see a thoughtful analysis of what would be required to achieve meaningful connectivity.  I suspect that what we need is a major national effort, sort of like the one that developed the interstate highway system. 

Without it, it is hard to see how connectivity will ever be achieved, except at the small scale I witnessed.



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