Even in today’s information age , there is no established network for health information. The current approach for implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) is failing. The global expenditure for EHR will exceed $33.4 billion per year by 2025 for an approach that does not empower patients, alienates and frustrates physicians, and is prohibitively expensive.
Developing nations simply cannot afford to implement the current, enterprise-based EHR systems. The few advanced countries that have implemented EHR systems widely have severely flawed implementations that have significant problems and are economically unsustainable. As an example, studies have shown that physician burnout is affecting 50% of practicing doctors in the USA with EHR implementations taking the blame as the most significant factor. And this is for a system in which patients typically have to file manual requests and wait days or weeks to access their own health information. Physicians are struggling with administrative overhead, taking away from the time they can spend with patients, and getting burnt out working with EHR systems that don’t even come close to achieving the kind of patient experience required.
Healthcare organizations have traditionally implemented EHR software as enterprise systems for their organizations, or departments. They use different software packages (as many as 1000+ different products), and different versions of the same software packages that are tailored to implement the requirements of a specific enterprise, resulting in silo systems. Once implemented for each enterprise, organizations or consortia then spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money in trying to make these siloed enterprise systems communicate with each other, which is made enormously difficult due to differences in data structures, software, and also the complexity of the information that comprises EHRs. The major flaw in this approach is that health information for patients is not “enterprise information” such as, say sales data. It belongs to patients. It needs to be shared across departments, and healthcare organizations, and needs to be controlled by patients. In retrospect, this is a highly complex approach to collecting and managing health data for patients, that has in practice proven to be tremendously problematic, expensive, and infeasible. Patients do not have access to or control over their information, and physicians are frustrated and harassed with the overhead that EHR systems bring.
Unfortunately, the current state of health care is not patient centric. As an example, in the USA, only one state explicitly gives ownership of medical records to the patients, 20 give it to the physician, and 29 states leave the issues undefined. This shows how much patients are not viewed as collaborators rather are viewed as challengers. We must begin to realize the more access will reduce medical errors while improving patient safety.
The Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN) is taking a fresh approach to solve this problem, applying decentralized computing, including blockchain technology to establish an open, secure and universally available network for collecting, securing and managing health information. It overcomes the numerous challenges and high costs related to managing health information to transform the way Electronic Health Records (EHR) are implemented. It empowers patients and physicians, reduces physician overheads, reduces costs, makes EHR available globally to all geographical regions and economic levels, and provides managed access to health information that does not exist today. It facilitates advancing healthcare globally, providing improved outcomes, and services that are not possible with current infrastructure and technology.
We invite your inputs regarding the UNHIN project, your experience in implementing and interacting with EHR systems, and what would you like to see in an ideal EHR system.