Last year was my first year to attend Stanford’s Medicine X conference.
The learning curve was steep, and this year was no different – so many different perspectives, all with one thing in common: a creative, educated and informed position with the desire to disrupt the current failing healthcare model. As it pertains to our community of those injured by an undertested and ill-fated, medical device, I want to focus on the main takeaways that can inform and unite our community.
1. #MedX TAKEAWAY: Gimme my damn data!
There were several ePatient scholars, including @ePatientDave and @BraveBosom, who discussed at length the current problems surrounding medical records and who owns them. You might find this shocking, but most of us don’t own the rights to OUR OWN medical records. With the mandate of the Affordable Care Act, and its requirement that all providers migrate to an EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system, it’s especially important to understand that you MUST request your medical records on-the-spot at EVERY DOCTOR’S VISIT OR HOSPITAL STAY. If you’re unable to get your data then, wait a few weeks, and order your records from the institution’s Medical Records Office.
The reason: Soon, you might not have access to your data.
This map reflects, by state, who owns YOUR healthcare data.
Are you surprised to learn that you, as the patient, own your data outright, but . . . ONLY IF YOU LIVE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE?!
Unfortunately, the state has a population of just 1.3 million, a tiny fraction of the U.S. population which is just under 322 million people!
So what does the average person – you or I – do about this obvious abuse of power? ADAPT.
There are ways you can collect your personal medical records NOW, so you have access to them, as up-to-date as possible, no matter what the future holds.
***Look for a blog post on Monday with solutions for retrieving, securing and storing YOUR medical records and data!***
2. #MedX TAKEAWAY: The Millennial Doctor. The future may be brighter than you think.
Stanford added a component to its #MedX conference this year, the Med|Ed curriculum. In the same way that executive director, Dr. Larry Chu, has turned the typical medical conference on its head with #MedX, with Med|Ed he’s done the same. The Med|Ed portion of the conference was designed to create an open and honest forum for pre-med and med school students as well as those in continuing education to express their needs and desires for improving the medical education they are receiving.
The change students wanted most: To be taught to be critical thinkers.
So much of medical education is rote memorization; they expressed. They communicated a sincere desire to be taught in different ways that would develop their skills to think critically and creatively about human illness and wellness. They are patients too, after all, and they observe and experience the same limitations that all patients do. I was most impressed by these 20-somethings. They didn’t complain about the difficulties of medical school; rather, they want more from their elders. They came prepared with slides about rote memorization and the limitations of memory recall, even after passing tests with flying colors. They expressed, in a safe space, to their professors, that their needs are not being met by the current educational system, and they are finding their own ways to supplement their learning experience and compensate for what isn’t available to them. They want to graduate with the skills that will change the way providers interact with patients in the near future. They were clear that, if the educational system doesn’t adapt, the stalwart lecture and test-taking method will go the way of the dinosaur, and so might the student who’d be willing to go into tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for that kind of education.
If you read the news, you likely often hear about “The Millennial Generation,” also known as “Gen Y.” Roughly speaking, this generation was born between 1980 and 2004. Most often, in reference to “Millennials,” you may hear associated words like: entitled, selfish, impatient – even lazy. These millennials were anything but, and they gave me an enormous sense of hope that our next generation of physicians will approach medicine with fresh eyes, new ideas, and the confidence to “teach the teacher,” when necessary. They also were very aware that sometimes, the PATIENT is the teacher. Imagine that.
3. #MedX TAKEAWAY THREE: We are still a long way from a healthcare system that is patient centric.
Currently much of the innovation in healthcare focuses on the development of new technologies. It seems everyone – from entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley think tanks to medical insurers, big pharma, and med device manufacturers, and even the U.S. government – is rushing to develop technologies that can break down the enormous cloud of metadata that the Information Age has given us, via the internet culture of real-time communication by email and social media. Technology improves our lives in many ways, but it also fails us in many ways. Consider this:
- Have medical technologies really improved the experience of the PATIENT?
- Have medical technologies improved PATIENT OUTCOMES?
- Have medical technologies improved PATIENT-DOCTOR communication?
- Have EMRs created a better process for doctors to easily share information about patients in the care of more than one physician?
The answers to all these questions is yes AND no. We’ve learned, in part, through the mandate of EMR systems, that technology may solve one problem while simultaneously creating another problem – maybe even a much larger problem.
Perhaps your prescriptions are much simpler to refill now that the transfer of information from provider to pharmacy is largely via electronic means, but haven’t you also experienced the downside of this move towards electronic communication in healthcare? After all; a computer isn’t a human. Both make mistakes, but a mistake in software or hardware can have very far-reaching, instantaneous consequences that can be undesirable and unintentional – and very difficult to fix.
This 7-year-old child’s detailed and beautiful drawing of her experience of visiting her doctor illustrates the downside of technology in the practice of medicine.
I’m sure the doctor depicted here had the best of intentions, but after all, he/she was trained in medicine, not in computer science or even in typing. I certainly have had experiences like the one this precious girl drew so honestly. EMR systems created widespread and unintended consequences even though the technology was invented to presumably help doctors make better use of their time. But at a practical level, physicians are often “hunt-peck typing” and staring at a screen for much of the standard 15-minute appointment most of us get with our copay. Most physicians will tell you that EMR systems have created more “paperwork” for them; they are working longer hours; they are spending a smaller and smaller percentage of those hours with patients in the actual practice of medicine.
Some facilities are now adapting by adopting a super-retro concept, like, ancient-retro. These facilities are bringing sexy back to the once-revered position of The Scribe. In times of antiquity – from Mesopotamia to Biblical times and throughout the advent and development of modern medicine, the role of a scribe was quite noble, for the information had to be copied perfectly, by hand, without error.
The modern equivalent – the Medical Scribe – is much more than a note taker. He/she is educated in the use of one or more Electronic Medical Records systems and also has education in medical terminology and insurance coding. With many other pertinent skills, these people-based solutions are arising from the limitations and unforeseen consequences of technology in action at the physician to patient level. Everyone agrees: the doctor and patient must have a relationship in which there is reciprocal trust and bonding. We don’t want doctors to be technicians. We want them to be physicians, right? Healers. Caregivers. Advisors. Consultants. Keen Observers. Scientists. Compassionate Providers. Problem Solvers. No relationship grows without eye contact, meaningful conversation and mutual trust.
- OWN your own medical records and data.
- HAVE HOPE about the future practice of medicine by “The Millennials.”
- ADAPT to technology in the practice of medicine. It is here to stay.
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