Shortly after a child is diagnosed with diabetes, parents often invest in a few medical ID tags in case of emergency. Ideally, these tags alert medical practitioners or others first on the scene to a child's medical condition and help with proper treatment until the parent or regular doctor can be contacted.
Yet what if a child or teenager is on a trip for either school or a sports team or away at camp and has a medical emergency or accident requiring hospitalization and the parent cannot get to them quickly? A medical ID tag will alert emergency workers that the child has diabetes, but what then? What if the child has multiple medical issues that could play a role in determining next steps, but the child's regular doctor or parent cannot be reached for consult?
There's little doubt that at long last the revolutionary technology that we've seen in telecommunications and entertainment finally is coming to healthcare. Medical records quickly are moving from paper to paperless and are being inputted into EMRs (electronic Medical Records systems). The Obama Administration, picking up from the Bush Administration, is committed to moving all practices to EMRs and has allocated $20B to doing so. Ideally, these new systems will reduce the cost of healthcare, with faster and more streamlined communications while helping to eliminate omissions and errors in treatment, particularly with the consolidation of one's medical history all in one place. Each person's medical record is called an EHR (electronic health record) or PHR (personal health record).
These EHRs or PHRs typically are managed either by the practitioner or by the insurance/care provider. A few companies are available that are now making these PHRs truly personal and portable, whereby individuals can manage their medical information and have their updated individual health record with them at all times.
One such company is HCEMR (Healthcare Everywhere Medical Records). Started by Neil Deir, a long-time entrepreneur, HCEMR is at the forefront of giving people control and access over their own health and medical information, and allowing this information to be available the moment someone needs medical help. This instant access helps to ensure that this information works for the person, instead of having time and the lack of information work against him. Deir, who enjoys traveling (particularly to Ireland), came up with the idea after having suffered from a heart attack. He realized that if he did not have all of his necessary medical information available quickly and he had another heart attack, he could be in real trouble. Neil sat down with his son, who has programming expertise, and created the working model for the portable PHR and the HCEMR company.
According to the HCEMR site, over 100,000 people die due to misdiagnosis and medical errors. Some of these errors are due to medical practitioners not having real-time access to the medical data and history they need to make the right decisions. This is where a portable PHR, like the one offered by HCEMR, steps in.
The data contained on the PHR is comprehensive, and includes identification information, medical release forms, prior medical and family history, medication (like insulin dosages), diagnosis data and doctor contact information, among others. Likewise, additional documents and identifying information can be uploaded, ranging from MRI scans to fingerprints. Uploading information into the PHR is done on a computer and information is navigated screen by screen. It is up to the individual (not the doctors) to upload and maintain the information, much like it is an individual's responsibility to update and maintain his financial information.
HCEMR offers portability for the PHR, akin to the way that Apple's iTunes offers portability for music with its iPod and related products. This way, anyone can have their medical information with them at all times. Someone can download their PHR onto one of several devices, including a USB (sized for both adults and children), "credit" cards, pens and wrist bands. The devices run between $40 and $45.
One question that comes to mind with a portable record is privacy and security, particularly if the record should be lost. When the health information is uploaded into a record, its password protected, which helps to protect it, however the data is not encrypted.
Technology has been key in making conditions like Type 1 more manageable. Having the ability to manage and have our - and our child's - medical history at all times and in all places is one more way that the power of technology can work with us to keep us healthy.
Published On: April 20, 2010