In a panel discussion during last week’s "The Future of Health Innovation: Bridging Danish and U.S. Innovation in Health" conference, Adams Dudley, M.D., M.B.A., professor of medicine and health policy at the University of California, San Francisco, proffered a really interesting idea: What if a space could be created in between the EHR and the initial security sign-on to offer patients related information and social networking ability?
Dudley offered a personal example from his own practice as a pulmonary physician. Many times he is faced with the difficult task of telling patients they have lung cancer. No matter how many times he reiterates the next steps for treatment, after the diagnosis is dropped, most patients don’t retain or comprehend anything after. Even if family members are present in the room, he says, most eyes glaze over after the “C” word is mentioned. Dudley suggests that this information gap could be bridged by videotaping these visits and placing them in what he calls the Secure Health Education Domain (SHED), a place that doesn’t have to meet legal requirements of an EMR or patient portal, but that requires patients to at least log-in securely to get there. The SHED could also be a place where people could network with other patients with the same diagnosis to ask questions and offer support.
This is a fascinating idea, especially when much of the innovation surrounding EHRs and health information exchange can, rightly or wrongly, get mired in security and privacy protocols and legislation. If this type of resource information could be offered to patients easily, instead of them having to comb the dubious results of a Google search, then patients could truly be a part of their own care.