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Symptom Exchange Key Concept 1
markavdb5 wrote in symptomx

Since this is supposed to be more about the site than some of the founding logic that contributed to the site, thought we should get on with it and post about one of the larger key concepts employed by our new site, the Symptom Exchange. 

This first concept centers on what we perceived to be a three part contradiction in values with our current health care system.  These three parts are related to identity, health record and benefit.  Certainly each of these parts has a reason and place in the current system but we thought they were key problem areas which hold back progress and keep costs high.


First let’s consider the identity part.  Really the identity of a person is virtually irrelevant to a diagnosis.  The reason I say virtually irrelevant is because the identity itself means nothing but the link it represents could be of great value.  Aside from making sure you have the right patient records and billing information, the identity has no relevance.  With all the user ID's and passwords we are already accustom to using, this information could be easily removed from our medical records. 

You might wonder why we would want to remove personal identifying information from our medical records.  The reason is simply privacy and usability of information.  HIPPA does have its good points but considering that the indentifying information is not really required to be part of our medical record, we seem to have missed an opportunity.  We could have had less legislation, less forms to fill out and ultimately less cost.  If you’re curious how this would lower costs, consider all the HIPPA training and compliance training those medical professionals are now required to do.  This particular solution to our issue of privacy has a serious cost that is now contributing to the problem.

The second consideration focuses on the health record itself.  To really understand why our health record is so important we must also realize its purpose and flaws.  Our health records were initially just a collection of medical information on us.  Then they became commodity that could be passed around to government agencies as well as other medical businesses.  I believe they are even used as a means to track charges for insurance purposes as well as give justification.  So what has initially started with the purpose for storing notes has turned into a record for accounting, billing, legal justification and accountability, health trending and more.  The only one not maximizing their benefit from the health record is the patient who is ultimately paying for this record keeping and research.  Being realistic how could we maximize benefit?  For us to maximize benefit now, we would have lowered the benefit to others.  Considering HIPPA and that personal identifying information is contained in our health records, we can't even look at someone else's medical record much less leverage the data in it for anyone's benefit.  After speaking with biostatisticians, even they claimed that de-identified data from medical records is virtually worthless. All things considered it sounds like in general the data is there, but is not legally usable because certain information not directly needed for treatment has been included. 

Before we continue discussing benefit, let’s assume that all of us are paying for insurance, this means we are all basically contributing to the creation of everyone’s health records.  Continuing on, we felt it was fair to say that the health records are really the research that we all pay for and often times the product that we purchased.  It is true that some may argue that we really purchased is time and resources.  To this we would ask who would purchase time and resources if it did not also provide value.  This is where the potential comes in for medical records.  If a medical record was built differently and contained input from the patient as well as medical professionals, it could be extremely valuable as a diagnostic tool for everyone.  Consider if your family had all their records organized such that you could leverage all the data they purchased as needed to solve a personal health issue.  Next lets multiply that by 1/10th of the families in the US, now you could leverage all that data to try and understand your own situation better.    We strongly believe that this consideration has real potential to help people maximize their value from every bit of funded research.  Just imagine the savings if on a national level medical professionals could make a diagnosis with significantly fewer tests.  Also imagine if instead of seeing several doctors before getting to the right specialist, you could see the right specialist on the first try. 

The contradiction is that we pay into a semi-socialistic health care system that only provides minimal value at an individual level.

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