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A response to Friedman and Obamacare Innovation Surprise

By Cyndy Nayer, June 4, 2013

business woman working on laptopThomas Friedman posted a column in Sunday’s NYT that highlights the surprise in technology innovation as a result of Obamacare. But one example needs an update, so I, serial disrupter will now step out and argue with a journalist that I adore.  Mr. Friedman, because a system or a provider has an electronic medical record does not ipso facto mean that info can be shared and care coordinated.  If my provider is at one hospital system, but I also use another provider or system, and each use a different IT platform, they can’t talk, and I can’t get coordinated care.

This is an important fact and one that needed to be addressed before the billions of dollars were invested.   Mind you, I agree with the investments (that will anger a few of my followers), as they came exactly at the right time and place:  the intersection of health care and the economic downturn that put a lot of very smart people out of work and out of health care coverage.  We needed that influx of dollars to invigorate the geniuses to update the platform that was crushing us in health care.  You know the platform, even if you can’t name it, by the tag line:  ”our legacy systems don’t talk to each other.”  I’ve been hearing that phrase since the early 1990′s, and iPhones, iClouds, twitter, facebook and more were not even thought of at that time.  If I can get my iTunes anywhere in the world why can’t I….but I digress.

If we had required some interoperability standards BEFORE the money was awarded, we would be much further along today.  Because we supported the information expansion but didn’t consider the accountability standards for the health care delivery system nor the consumerism (read as “people must make purchasing decisions”) that would be required, people cannot get their data.  In fact, it’s been 3.5 years now since Obamacare came to be, and despite blue buttons or pink buttons, my medical record is incorrect, hasn’t been corrected in 6 weeks, and it has implications for my personal health that, if I need care soon, could have dire consequences.  Even the care provider’s information maven says my info is incorrect.  But no corrections have been made and, of course, I don’t have access to put in patient notes, either.

If we considered what would be required of folks across the country, and many of us do travel across our great land, then we would have known that our data must move with us.  We have a model like that in our country:  the veterans administration data travels with the soldier wherever he or she is stationed.  That simple process would have made accessibility so much easier without destroying “proprietary rules” of innovation companies, insurance companies, and health systems.  In other words, we did so much right from the tech and economic recovery side, but we forgot the people who will, ultimately, bear the brunt of the fallout in choices.

I chose a well-respected provider and health system.  They are part of a national leader in medical technology.  So the system did “patient-centered” without considering “patient inclusive” and that’s not ok.

It’s hard to catch the cow once she is out of the pen, I’m told (never caught a cow).  Probably applies to the innovation rocket ship we launched.  But humanity is calling to be injected into this scenario.  You can’t hold me accountable if I can’t get the data–I’m shooting blanks and so is the system without my input.  Data is just data without me and my story, or you and yours, told with accuracy.

So hurrah for the innovation injection, which, in fact, is mirroring what happened with NASA and national innovation in the 60′s and 70′s.  Now, include me.

Obamacare’s Other Surprise –

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