Oracle is planning a unified national healthcare database. Will it work?

Oracle's primary mission is improving the complex healthcare system with technology, according to Larry Ellison.

The chair, co-founder and chief technology officer of Oracle said in a June 9 virtual public presentation the company plans to vastly improve care delivery, outcomes and public health policy while also lowering costs. Oracle acquired Cerner in a $28.4 billion transaction earlier this week and has plans to modernize the platform, taking it from a documentation and billing system to a complete source of information about an individual's healthcare. The EHR would also have virtual care capabilities, be interoperable and expand clinical trial accessibility.

"Together, Cerner and Oracle have all the technology required to build a revolutionary new health management information system in the cloud," Mr. Ellison said. "That system will deliver much better information to healthcare professionals. Better information will fundamentally transform healthcare."

Oracle aims to build a unified database for patient information, similar to the unified financial database with credit information, accessible to healthcare providers and public health officials. The database would have anonymized data from hospitals, clinics and providers across the U.S. and provide up-to-the-minute information about patients' personal health as well as public health statistics, such as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 or available hospital beds in a particular state.

"We're building a system where the health records, all American citizens' health records, not only exist at the hospital level, but they are all in a unified national healthcare database," Mr. Ellison said. "The national database solves the data electronic health record fragmentation problem."

Mr. Ellison said the system will continuously upload records from hospital databases into a national database to arm physicians with the latest information for better care decisions. This idea, however, likely won't be easy to implement. He did not address how the system would gather information from hospitals that aren't on the Cerner system; Epic has nearly 33 percent of the hospital market, and interoperability isn't yet a reality. And as always, the data is only as good as the person entering it, leaving room for human error.

The large database also raises security questions. Throughout the presentation, Mr. Ellison noted patients would still have the "key" to their health records, which are anonymized until patients give providers access.

"We want to give doctors all the information they need about your health status so they can provide the best hospital care, but we don't want to compromise data security and data privacy," he said. "We've done that with this system."

Mr. Ellison did touch on a few specifics about how Cerner's Millennium EHR will change. Oracle will add a voice user interface to make it easier to access data and orders; the EHR will also have an integrated telemedicine module and disease-specific artificial intelligence modules.

Oracle also hopes to leverage its presence in the enterprise resource planning and human resources space within healthcare organizations to further automate and improve HR functions. Managing the clinical workforce, including both contracted and employed clinicians, is complex and Oracle aims to make the process easier.

"This new health management system will deliver much better information to healthcare professionals," Mr. Ellison said. "It will help doctors deliver better patient outcomes, help public health officials improve public health policy and lower overall costs. That is now our primary mission here at Oracle."

Oracle has made bold moves to realize the goal of a more efficient and cost-effective healthcare system that delivers better outcomes at a fraction of the cost of care today. But transforming the healthcare industry is easier said than done.

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