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Life on the Other Side (as a Patient)

April 30, 2013
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A real-world example of the impact of needless diagnostic exams

A week ago while on vacation in Florida I experienced another episode of vertigo.  For those of you who have never experienced vertigo, you are fortunate!  Long story short I ended up in the ER, and then admitted to the hospital.  The stay was necessary from the physician’s perspective, as they did a CT scan while in the ER, with inconclusive findings, which again in their mind necessitated admission and an MRI/MRA scan (which of course couldn’t be scheduled until the next day!).

I knew exactly why they felt it necessary to do the MRI/MRA, but with access to prior CT and MRI/MRA scans that were done several years ago, I am confident that they would have been able to avoid doing the MRI/MRA!

Hence, a personal example of the benefit of image-based health information exchanges.  If the physicians had the ability to access and download my prior CT or MRI/MRA exams, they could have made a comparison and ruled out their concern.  The lack of any ability to access my prior exams meant ordering and conducting an expensive exam for nothing, and cost me a day in the hospital!

Clearly, this event was outside the bounds of what would be addressed by a regional health information exchange, but it could have been met with a national exchange.  Conversely, having the ability to have my studies stored in a patient-oriented cloud such as Microsoft’s HealthVault would have been even better, as I could have easily granted the facility permission to access my prior exams.  Instead, I had to complete a consent form to have the exams forwarded to my primary care facility – a 10-15 business day proposition.  So, here I sit waiting on their transfer before I can follow up locally.  Fortunately, this is not a serious condition.  I can only empathize with those with serious health conditions that are caught in the same inefficiencies of snail mail-based healthcare!

Having experienced a real-world example of needless diagnostic procedures, I can wholeheartedly endorse the notion of cloud-based repositories, as they can save the expense and time of redundant procedures.  The only consolation?  It rained every day we were in Florida!

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