Patient data can travel

Does a central system exist to save patients records and provide access to the next doctor the patient visits?  Would regulations allow one to be created?

Data Geek

Dear Data Geek,

There is such a system within each state and it is called a Health Information Exchange (HIE).  All of the states of the U.S. have Approved State Plans from Health IT.  So the answer to your second question is yes, regulations do allow for these to be created.

Participation in these systems is generally voluntary.  This means that an individual doctor or hospital can choose to share its data or not.   Even if they share their data, they may not use the system to retrieve data.   In theory, if you saw Doctor A who uses the system and then saw Doctor B who also uses it, then Doctor B could look up information about your visit with Doctor A.  In practice, Doctor B is not in the habit of looking at the HIE and may ask you all the same questions again.  

It will take time for new habits to be formed, and for patients to be aware that these systems are there.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.