While trying to figure out what others might value as holiday gifts, I began to think about my own health IT wish list. Some of this is pie in the sky, but other wishes are very doable if the right parties could focus and agree to certain common parameters.
1. A national patient identifier. Okay, there are major obstacles to overcome before this will ever happen, and unfortunately many of them are political. If patients understood the potential for medical mistakes because of errors in patient matching, I think they would agree this must be done. Even in my limited world, there are matching algorithms for my state immunization registry, my local hospital HIE, my interface with labs, insurance eligibility, pharmacy eligibility. Providers all have an NPID, so why can’t we do the same thing for patients? Then I know my John Smith is the same John Smith you have on your critical report, AND the Baby B Jones is in fact “Allison Marie Jones” so we don’t create two separate records for the same patient.
2. Unified sign-on to systems. It’s bad enough being over 50 and not being able to remember things, but having to change passwords on multiple log ins to multiple systems with complicated rules about not repeating prior ones is making me crazy! Like many folks, I simply can’t keep these straight–especially for the ones I only use once per month, or less. So for all of you password rule makers out there…many of us write them down! Or put them in the notes of our phones! You may think you are making your system more secure, but I would argue you are making it less secure when we have to write things down to remember them. I’m ready for a retinal display for everything. Let me stare at a spot on the computer so it knows who I am. Then I can shred my password lists and free up some space on my desk.
3. Patient tracking. Wouldn’t it be awesome if patients came with an RFID tag? They pull in the parking lot, the system notices their tag, and checks them into the office. You take them to room 2 and the system automatically updates. The nurse attempts to give them the wrong med, and the system creates an alert. Twin siblings don’t try to scam you about which one they are. (“No I’m Timmy and that’s Tommy.”) I’ll even take one too! I walk in room 1, the system opens the note for the correct patient automatically, and stages the patient “in process with doctor.”
4. Voice activated search capability. How I would love to be able to walk up to the computer and say “find me the patient I saw last week, male, adolescent, who had the strange rash on his upper chest.” Most of us can remember every detail about a patient, but a name might elude us. Searching through logs to find them is frustrating and time consuming. Cue the voice activated search!
5. Reinforced regulations to actually FOLLOW HIT standards. It is unsustainable model when every lab, HIE, and immunization registry takes technical standards and has to alter it just a little bit because, after all, they’re special and have unique needs. That’s nonsense. By not following the standards as they were written, they are creating an obstacle to effective information exchange. Everyone is worried about the HIPAA police. Well I think there should be an HL7 and “other standards” police for organizations who violate the standards, and they should have to suffer meaningful consequences. Like maybe not get paid. Afterall, we don’t get paid when we don’t follow the payer standards for submitting claims.
6. Health care professionals and systems that embrace change instead of fighting it. Change can be scary, but it’s necessary for improvement. Be informed, take a big breath and realize change will happen whether we resist it, become a part of it, or lead it. So why not lead it?
Do you have any wishes on your IT wish list? If so, let me know. Have a wonderful holiday season and may some of your holiday wishes come true.