Monday, January 21, 2013

NOCH Joining Michigan Health Connect Leaves Something Out

I was interested to read that North Ottawa Community Hospital in Grand Haven has joined something called Michigan Health Connect. As an article in the Grand Haven Tribune explains, the idea is that medical records can be shared efficiently in an online hub among multiple medical professionals so patients do not have to keep providing information with each doctor's office. Also, results of tests and other procedures can be shared immediately with other care providers.

All of that sounds ok. My wife is fighting cancer, works with multiple doctors in different facilities and specialties, and complains about multiple appointments, getting doctors to talk to each other, and having to repeat information multiple times.

However, her biggest complaint--and that of many other patients we talk to--is the difficulty of getting copies or access to HER OWN RECORDS. Some doctors offices are great about providing a copy of a lab test, a report on a scan and other records. A medical social worker, my wife has long advocated to others to stay informed about your own case and be your own best advocate when making decisions about your own care.

But Michigan law requires in some cases that a third party process requests for your own information. You have to fill out a release of information form--yes, giving some bureaucrat permission to release your own personal medical information to your own self. This already makes no sense. But then, we got a bill from some company in Atlanta for copying and mailing us records we had requested from a hospital here in Michigan. One wonders how such a law got passed other than that some politicians wanted to create unnecessary medical records jobs for a favored constituent group.

The Michigan Health Connect web site has a link "for patients" but reviewing it shows that they see patients as a group that needs to be convinced that this technology is necessary and secure. There is an opt-out option. But no where is there an obvious way to request access to one's own patient records.

I remain unimpressed with this system until they see patients as the primary recipient of medical records. Right now, if you're a patient, there are a dozen medical and insurance professionals who can see your records before you can. They boast that the system is secure. Then they should give patients an access log-in to see their own records.

Until that happens, Michigan Health Connect is not a complete remedy.

1 comment:

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