Is Facebook the New Model For Health Record Systems?

What if accessing, sharing and linking medical records between multiple physicians and patients could be made as easy as posting your status on social media? Melissa McCormack, a writer who reviews electronic health records for Software Advice, says she thinks patient information should be shared in a Facebook-like fashion, and she makes a pretty convincing case for it.

FB Health Records

This week, Facebook celebrated a milestone birthday. For 10 years, users have been logging in to the uber-popular social media site to connect, discuss current events and post pictures of puppies, babies and what they had for breakfast. Facebook’s international reach has allowed adopted children find their birth parents and a multitude of other examples regarding the site’s vast connectivity options. If Grandma from London can view and “like” a video of her grandson winning the school spelling bee in Iowa, why can’t I look at an x-ray from my outpatient surgery in 2008 without having to make a phone call, sit on hold, sign a waiver and wait for a nurse to send an email or worse, require me to drive to the office?

McCormack suggests her Facebook model is a great way to, “unify single patient records.” Here’s a quick tutorial of how this, “cross-culture” record system would work:

  • About: Includes biographical information and patient medical history including name, height, weight, smoking history, current medications, etc.
  • Privacy Settings: Users could choose who can see medical information. This would allow elderly parents and older children who are still on their parents insurance coverage to give access to caregivers and parents who need to see vital information.
  • Status Updates: This area would be used by physicians, specialists, nurses and the patient to discuss new medications, diagnoses and treatments.
  • Photos: X-ray pictures, MRI images and CT scan results can be catalogued and dated here for quick review and future archival.
  • Tagging: Allows physicians to alert specialists and other patient-related individuals to a particular picture or update.
  • Notifications:  Alerts the patient about important information including potential drug interaction, future medical visits, etc.
  • Events: Used to schedule upcoming doctors visits.

McCormack’s idea for a timeline medical record system is forward-thinking. Hopefully software companies will take her lead and create what she calls a, “patient-centric” system that offers an incentive for doctor’s offices to use it. If easing the burden on patients is not a deciding factor, maybe helping their bottom line will be.