The COVID-19 crisis has thrown a harsh spotlight on flaws in America’s healthcare system. One of those flaws isn’t getting much attention now, but will be critical in our post-pandemic future: the lack of health data portability.
The pandemic has made it clear how important it is for healthcare data to move seamlessly between multiple systems and users. Public health officials and journalists alike have struggled to get a complete picture of the pandemic in part because the necessary data — including basic information like the number of cases in a county, or ICU capacity at a given hospital — gets stuck in inaccessible silos. Without interoperability between clinical systems and healthcare applications data is extremely difficult to manage and nowhere near as useful as it could be.
Looking beyond the pandemic, easy and secure data-sharing is crucial to building the future of healthcare that everyone wants. It’s a future in which you control your own healthcare data, you can share it easily with a new doctor or specialist, and you can use innovative new apps to glean insights from your healthcare data that improve your life.
Or we could start with a more modest goal: a future where you don’t have to fill out those endless medical history forms every time you see a new doctor, because it’s easy for you to grant electronic access to that information. Either way, easy data sharing is crucial to creating a more user-friendly healthcare system with more tightly coordinated care and, ultimately, better outcomes.
Niko Skievaski is co-founder and president of healthcare IT company Redox*.
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