Knowledge is Power
In a world where healthcare converstaions have become mainstream topics, there is a necessity to understand more precisely smaller aspects of the whole picture. My focus is not to dazzle with big words or to complex ideas, but to pull at a stitch in the tapestry to see where it leads.
I doubt there are many of us that have not been to a doctor’s office, health clinic or even the hospital. Unless you are a returning patient, there are forms to fill out with a myriad of repetitive questions that we always seem to have to answer no matter where we end up. This information is entered into a computer, and most likely, a chart of some sort is made. Vital information is then added. Then, the almost eternal wait for the doctor begins.
I have begun to ask myself more and more about this data that is collected: how much information does a small doctors’ practice generate in a month or a year? Much of the information is stored electronically, and no longer sits on a shelf with innumerable other active and inactive files. This manufactured data reveals details that a doctor or other staff needs in order to fill in a better picture of each of us.
Many Americans are cautious about having their data readily available to outside persons. However, many researchers want to find patterns in large numbers. For these individuals and groups, information that explains certain health conditions, reproductive outcome and overall quality of life produces a more predictive picture and thus a greater realization of where and even when health professionals may be needed.
Healthcare data is a treasure trove of facts and patterns that can answer complex questions. Maybe you have seen an episode of House where a patient has symptoms that don’t fit into any known disease or ailment checklist. Dr. House ends up torturing his residents to find what the collection of symptom add up to. To be tapped into vast amounts of data that can show a continued history from before sickness to what cured or alleviated a person’s condition could prove to be helpful to someone else hundreds of miles removed.
Privacy vs. the Value of Information
Privacy of my information is something I value. Strip away my name and other specific details, and my healthcare data compilation, along with many other entities, could provide essential information to other doctors and their patience.
More recently, instead of a general diagnoses being part of a mass collection in medical books, or internet search result, healthcare data can now be entered into a much more efficient and effectual database than has been realized before. Healthcare data solution systems provide a doctor with a patient’s complete history; the good, the bad and the getting-better. Moreover, this information is also available for number crunchers who want to see the big picture and don’t need to see the patient as an individual, but as part of a whole. Everyone can benefit with data like this being available, and privacy still being upheld.
Back to the thought of not wanting my information out in the hands of those who don’t have a vested interest in my well-being; this progressive achievement in healthcare data availability for all can be in everyone’s best interest. Not only would I be able to visit any doctor or clinic and not have to fill out more paperwork, but I could be admitted into any hospital and those attending to me would not have to assume details of my medical history, but would be able to find if I had any allergies or what medication I was on.
What I find even more fascinating than being properly diagnosed at the time of service is that my doctors could have vital information available to them about unique maladies that could more quickly be identified and tackled. Sorry Dr. House, your residents would not stuck in a medical library with dozens of books in front of them, but in front of a computer promptly finding out a prognosis that fits me perfectly.
Though the future of all the data that has been amassed from our visits to the doctors no longer sits stale on shelves or misdiagnosed because of its distinctive qualities, healthcare and its professionals will have more to help them combat and maybe even prevent failing health issues.