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Delivering on the Value of Digital Health Data

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Jim Rowland
February 12, 2015

Health information technology (HIT) is now poised to deliver on the promised value of digital health data. This broad statement could be met with skepticism, so let me expand on the thought.

When I go to health HIT conferences, I always meet doctors who voice loud complaints on how HIT has, so far, failed to deliver. A typical complaint from doctors is that they spend more time focused on clicking through an encounter in their EHR than looking at the patient, all to produce data elements which are not medically useful, but required for administrative or compliance purposes.

EHRs need to improve on how the software interfaces with the doctor. All EHR vendors recognize this fact and are diligently working on how to improve their standards, yet no matter how good the EHR doctor interface is, doctors will never appreciate it if it does not solve a medical problem.

A medical problem will be solved when providers finally have proper access to medical data, and this access is provided through tools which make the data actionable.

Imagine Dr. Smith asking herself if a given procedure is the best protocol for a given condition presented by a patient in front of her, today the answer to her question can be very subjective, because access to solid data is very limited.

The data required to answer the question is not only in Dr. Smith’s EHR, Dr. Smith needs a report on the clinical outcomes of at least all the doctors in her health system, perhaps all the doctors in her state. Next she will need to filter by demographics to establish that the best protocol for an 80 year old male is different than the protocol for the 22 year old female in question.  A single practice's database will never be sufficient to drill down and filter, there are simply not enough cases. The day HIT can give Dr. Smith the answer she is looking for is the day she will learn to appreciate her EHR.


Today, Dr. Smith’s patient Jane Doe, is just as unappreciative of the EHR. As Dr. Smith types away on her computer, Jane asks how effective the procedure will be, but Dr. Smith’s answer is ambiguous. Jane assumes that just like Google, Dr. Smith’s EHR can provide the answers but it does not. Jane would also like to seek reports related to her condition from the data she presumes is in Dr. Smith’s EHR, yet she cannot.  If Jane could access her data, and if she understood the data to be useful, she would also be very concerned with keeping the data consistent and complete. She would review her records and correct any errors which could creep into her data if not checked.

At Healthjump, we propose the integration of clinical data, and the technical processes by which data can be accessed intelligently, securely, anonymously, and reported across EHRs, populations, and accessible to both the patient and the doctor. This goal requires a clinical data integration platform separate from the EHR, yet connected to all EHRs which serve a given patient.   

We, at Healthjump, are poised to solve this problem in the near future, because for the first time in history the data is now digitally available. Meaningful use standards for the exchange of data are being implemented, and modern web technologies have solutions to the security, integration and large scale usage problems that are common to such platforms.  In summary, Healthjump is building a HIPAA compliant, Meaningful Use certified, patient centered platform, and a patient portal, that allows patients access to their doctors and gives doctors access to clinical analytic tools that can positively impact the clinical outcomes and create a universal standard of health much higher than we ever imagined.

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