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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Two ehealth mysteries

One well known ehealth mystery is typified in the Infoway TV commercial called "Knowing is Better" but takes that scenario one step further.  The comatose patient arrives in the ER with absolutely no identification. How should medics treat the patient?  RFID chip implants was proposed as one solution and there are cases where this may have saved patients. For many reasons the implant idea is not catching on. Nanotechnology might be able to create an identification code, written into our cells, that when scanned leads to a "break the glass in case of emergency" login to an EHR. Research has shown that most patients want the ER to have their health information in an EHR if they were to arrive there from out of the blue.  The same high percentage is equally concerned about the privacy and security of their health information.

The next ehealth mystery is one that is actually being developed now, but by small increments.  It is the scenario of ubiquitous computing, where any contact with the healthcare system generates digital information which is potentially transportable and interoperable through the Health Information Access Layer (HIAL) to a personal health record (PHR).  Everything would be interconnected through Service Oriented Architecture (SOA).  I have heard citizen advocates for PHR say that all forms of healthcare and wellness should be integrated.  That means anytime you visit the dentist, naturopath, personal gym trainer,  use a mobile device like fitbit, nutritionist, physiotherapist, psychologist, data from that interaction is captured, transported, tracked and analyzed in the PHR.  This is a Big Data world where public health and research have consent access to de-identifiable information. This is also the world where the "virtual self" continues to exist long after one is gone.