The clerical aspect of data collection in the medical industry is not often included in the immediate list of important concerns for licensed medical professionals. However, what data is collected, how it is collected, how it is distributed, and how it is accessed are just a few of the common, overarching issues that licensed medical professionals may personally encounter, and certainly a larger issue in the industry as a whole.
One component that makes the data itself problematic is the manner by which it is collected. A patient may see multiple providers, or go to multiple medical facilities. They may employ their insurance for certain visits, but other visits may not be covered. How does the patient’s medical history from one hospital visit make it into their file when they visit a completely different hospital or doctor? What about if they visit a hospital or medical facility in an entirely different city, state, or even country? Each individual facility certainly collects the data on the patient and retains it within their system. However, these systems are isolated and subject to the particular protocols of that specific facility that the patient visited. Of course, other medical facilities can “order” this patient history from different medical facilities, but this process is inconsistent and may take precious time that is needed to properly treat the patient.
In addition to the isolated nature of medical data collection, the issue is that a patient is often expected to self-report their entire medical history to help better guide their treating physician. Patients are unreliable for various reasons, including shame/guilt/embarrassment, forgetting and inadvertently omitting medical visits and information, improperly remembering specific medical issues, lack of knowledge on previously used medications, inability to correctly identify dates, times, and facilities, and so much more. If a patient enters a medical treatment facility, the licensed medical professional may simply rely on the patient to provide a relatively accurate snapshot of their medical history, and this is not reliable. This occurs, in short, because our nation does not have a systemwide medical data program that allows each person to have a conglomerate report of their medical history to easily provide to the person treating them.
The ethics of mass data collection on a particularly sensitive topic is, in part, preventing the country from developing these kinds of programs to assist both patients and licensed medical professionals. While it may not be at the forefront of many minds within the industry and is potentially deemed as less important than other hot button issues, the utility of ethically and effectively collecting and sharing medical data should be more seriously considered in the future. Until then, licensed medical professionals remain at the mercy of the patient’s willingness to share their medical history and/or their ability to remember important information about their own medical history, on top of being at the mercy of other medical facilities in providing this data.
Williams & Nickl has represented thousands of licensed professionals and their licensed business entities who face issues with IDFPR. If you find yourself in such a situation, Williams & Nickl can provide the help you need.