UCSF researchers: Forget electronic or comprehensive health records, it's time for a connected health record

A group of experts at the UC San Francisco Center for Digital Health Innovation are pushing for what they call a connected health record amid the debate on whether the EHR should instead be a comprehensive health record.

In a March 13 blog post for Health Stack, the center's Aaron Neinstein, MD, director of clinical informatics; Mark Savage, director of health policy; and Ed Martin, director of technology, argue the debate is much more than a name. "It reflects a debate over the goals of health information technology. Life, health, and healthcare are neither static nor siloed, but are constantly in motion, and one’s health data must be in motion, too," they write.

As health activities and use cases expand, the idea that the EHR should be an electronic filing cabinet has spoiled, and because of the industry's emphasis on interoperability, it begs the development of capabilities beyond point-to-point, EHR-to-EHR connections.

"Our health and healthcare are hardly confined to the fifteen minutes in a clinical office visit, and accordingly, our healthcare ecosystem requires connectedness with patients and family caregivers, with social determinants of health, with non-clinical providers such as school clinics for our youth, and with community health centers," they write. Many vendors refer to this rebranded EHR as a comprehensive health record — but that effort falls short of the industry's interoperability demands.

Instead, a connected health record would focus on conversation, teamwork, interconnections and data sources that manage health.

With a connected health record, a cancer patient at home who comes down with an illness or a fever could have his or her  data sent immediately to his or her primary care physician, oncologist, homecare nurse and family caregiver to inform changes in the care plan made by any provider and could make the change accessible to the entire care team.

"A static, allegedly comprehensive health record misses the dynamics of an interactive, learning health system. Rather, patients, providers, population health agencies, registries, payers, researchers, social service agencies, community centers, and accountable care organizations all need interconnected systems and records," they write.

Click here to read the full blog post.

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