A second historic forum on health data is scheduled for June 9th, 2011, where it is expected that over five hundred participants are going to showcase how tools and applications can be created to help Americans make informed decisions as health consumers and patients. The issue of access to health data in the delivery of health services in the past has been a challenge. Many physicians and patients have complained about the absence of portability and transparency in health data sharing and an interoperable nationwide electronic health system that support responsive health care decisions. Access to patient’s medical record has been restrained to many physicians’ desktop or physical record, making mobility of patients’ data difficult; this has in turn added to the cost of delivering health care and delayed care in some cases.
The June 9th forum is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine, meant to highlight the importance of medical data content and quality for making informed health care decisions. When patients relocate and treatment physician in their new domicile has to make quick emergency decision, the absence of portable patient’s health record make health delivery more challenging. Imagine if physicians are able to retrieve patients’ medical record on their mobile phone from a different treatment source. Imagine having patient’s historical anatomy after several operations or one operation, available in an application after the completion of the procedure. How about having a monochrome screen of an ongoing operation procedure to a remote location for experts to assess and offer immediate relevant procedure recommendation to scuttle a possible error. These are the type of issues, this forum on tools and application in health care is anticipating solving; and more. Today, we will review a couple of new tools and applications that would assist physicians respond faster and afford patients and consumers make relevant health decisions.
How about doctors downloading patients medical records using high network computer connections? Phone users have access to larger full color screen with good resolutions and polyphonic sound; why not gynecologists to help resolve significant complication issues during births? The time has come, when a gynecologist is able to turn to his or her ipods, android or blackberry to check for useful WebMD information. Over the past five years, physicians in Europe have been turning to information on WebMD on their desktop for useful information. While still not error proof, we may be looking forward to a period, when physicians can turn to their iphones to get similar information, a dramatic shift from the old known way of primary care and sourcing treatment information.
At this stage, offering a mobile version of patients medical record is not only feasible, all the technological walls that have prevented doctors from providing immediate information to help patients make personal medical decisions, are soon going to be a thing of the past. There are the possibilities of 70-100k downloads of patients records through iPhone apps and the number of such downloads per second will only improve as the mobile technology advances. For example, a product called Differential Diagnosis (DDX), which tailors patients’ treatment records to Best Practice tools, was recently released by the BMJ Group. What this is doing, is affording for a rich culture of the use of apps in rapid treatment and care of patients.
With many information providers contemplating mobile versions of their website, how about creating open source software that allow physicians to download best practices application in the treatment of difficult operational procedures? How about reception of standardized treatment information and data retrieval on smart phones? It does not require huge effort in terms of engineering to add patient’s medical records and best treatment tools to a smart phone. The wide variety of applications, developed and those to be developed is the reason to contemplate the ease which these technologies can bring to health care delivery. It is probably also, one of the reasons for this second forum sponsored by the United States Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine.
Medical laboratories collect and receive tons of samples and information from different treatment sources and physician offices. Some data generated or collected information from samples by medical laboratories is not important for a doctor’s analysis and treatment. How about apps and tools to weed out irrelevant data from treatment and analysis; or, a data management tool that streamlines data to particular treatment analysis? How about apps to streamline test results in multiple formats to allow doctors of different specialty to isolate possible issue by seeing the data in formats that are specialty or treatment specific? How about apps that enable physicians to investigate if a virus breakout may turn to an epidemic or pandemic?
Can we be talking about value added services as integral part of patient medical records and data management? There must now be a tool or apps that allow doctors and patients to simply view treatment plans and discuss alternatives with other physicians or family members on a vacation trip on a blackberry? How about apps that allows medical laboratories to populate new results and findings from samples in real time and sharing this information with multiple locations and Operation Theater. A green-hand medical laboratory technologist once had problem reading the results of an ultra-sound and or X-RAY; that difficulty was not resolved until a seasoned medical laboratory technologist showed up on a later shift. How about those apps sending ultra sound and or X-RAY results to his iPhone or Blackberry in color-filled monochrome screens?
Here are some intriguing tools and apps, already available in the market and their developer or manufacturer: 1) the Visualization Science Group launched version six of their popular Avizo 3D visualization and analysis software. This software offers users a wide range of data imports, advanced image processing modules and mesh data visualization (www.avizo3d.com); 2) Definiens Tissue Studio introduced a digital pathology image analysis software package. This software optimizes cell-by-cell biomarker quantifications for simplified pathologist’s analysis. Pathologists can now identify and visualize a region of interest for further analysis and explanations (www.definiens.com); 3) IN/US Systems updated its Laura 4 radiochromatograpy system with the ability to import data from liquid scintillations counters and plate readers. This intuitive tool affords for chromatogram integration and data comparison alongside others collected through flow-through detectors (www.lablogic.com); 4) Genedata introduced Expressionist Migration program that provides medical researchers and bioinformaticians tools for migration of mass spectrometry and related data source (www.genedata.com); and, 5) ICD offers an integrated platform that allow large-scale and medium-sized medical laboratories to work together for both pharmacology and Biotechnology services (www.icd.eu).
The next-generation medical data management application and tools are now ripe for mobile use or transmission on secured platforms to doctor’s iphones and blackberries. With the increasing amount of patients’ data flowing from doctor’s office and laboratories, there are now need for tools that will enable doctors and medical laboratories work more efficiently and easily. The long wait for manual data to be moved from medical labs to the doctor’s offices must become a thing of the past. Medical data formats and applications need to be integrated in ways that will allow for coherent understanding of medical reports by the physicians and laboratory technologists. Often, the medical reports that distill a patient’s medical status are taking time and money to arrive at the desk of physicians; how about making these available on their mobile networks?
Many of us are looking forward to the June 9th Forum, arranged by U.S. Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine, to document and make available to physicians, medical personnel and patients, advances that would revolutionize the movement of medical records to help improve the care of, and decision making of patients. The challenge for a forum as this is ensuring that information on advances in technology and application tools are relevant to the needs of doctors, medical personnel, consumers and or patients, so they may become empowered to make decisions that are critical to solving health issues. The contemplated or developed applications and tools must be able to replace manual process and delayed style of medical information delivery, both in structured and unstructured formats.
This forum requires some level of transparency, not only on health data management but also, what the functional applications and tools are supposed to serve in standardizing informatics and data retrieval on health care decision making and health service delivery. The global perception is that the US collects the most health data; more than any nation; yet, it finds it difficult to use these data or make sense of them to help consumers/patients make better and informed decision on time. This forum is probably going to help us all understand the current problems with health data glut, time sensitivity, and available computer applications and tools that may make patient record easily portable to doctors and treatment sources. The new applications and tools must be such that doctors and medical personnel feel more comfortable with their use, assuring medical treatment decisions that are up-to-date and relevant. Finally, the applications and tools must create awareness of patient’s treatment portfolio privacy, including the legally approved use of patient’s medical data and information.