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  • Writer's pictureAmir Gilboa

Sharing medical information - why share and how to do it correctly?

Similar to many fields, sharing medical information in the medical field can greatly contribute to the improvement of the treatment, obtaining more accurate results, and reducing unnecessary hassle to the patient as well as the medical staff.

Let’s take David as an example. A 65-year-old man, arriving at the hospital after feeling bad. After arriving at the emergency department he was sent for extensive tests to find out his condition. He had blood tests, a chest X-ray, an ECG and his blood pressure, fever and blood oxygen levels were measured.

After several hours and anti-pain medication, David was discharge home after feeling better since no special findings were detected.

Three days later, David felt bad again and this time arrived at a different emergency department in a different hospital. He underwent the same series of tests and did not tell the medical staff that this was his second time coming to the emergency department that week. Unfortunately, all the information from the previous tests was not available.

David didn’t think of bringing the printed release letter he had received, and the information remained stored at the first hospital.

It is important to mention that if the doctors would have had the information from the past days, they would have been able to receive a wider picture and compare the change in trends and perhaps draw better conclusions that would affect the treatment and the following steps.

Precisely at this point, these medical information sharing systems enter the picture by enabling the medical staff to view a patient’s medical information arriving from different places that are not the medical organization at which he is currently. For example, when a doctor at a hospital receives a patient, he can access his medical information coming from his HMO, other hospitals or clinics or institutes that store relevant information about the patient.

In the other direction, a family doctor can access the visit summaries from the hospitals in which the patient had visited. This way, the doctor receives the information directly from the hospitals and it doesn’t need to be mediated through printed forms that often only contain partial information.

How to share medical information correctly?

After understanding the importance of information sharing and the critical meaning it could have in the treatment process, it’s important to know how to share this information correctly.

There are different ways of sharing the information and of course various regulatory and legal aspects that take into account the need to protect the privacy and protection of the medical information.

In addition, there is the technical aspect of how to best connect the various systems? Who is authorized to view the information? When can the information become available and for how long? Where is the information physically preserved and who is responsible for the information at each stage? And more.

The regulator must set rules for the way the information is shared, the type of data that can be shared and who are the professionals who can use the information and when.

On the technological side there are systems that enable medical information sharing.

One of the challenges in implementing such systems is the need to standardize the way of transmission of the information from the different organizations while each of them has a different information systems and sometimes there are a number of organizations from which the required information is issued.

With the advancement of international standards for the transmission of medical information and the introduction of the FHIR standard, many organizations are promoting the implementation and use of FHIR so that all health organizations will speak the same language and in order to facilitate the transmissions and share of medical information.

The work of adaptation and agreement between all organizations on the appropriate way and the best manner to define the specific standard for transferring information is still required.

Once the standard will be formulated, it will be much more convenient and simpler to share information between the caregivers and perhaps later on some information can be accessible to patients through interfaces of various applications that can easily connect to the system.

It will be much easier for FHIR standard-based systems such as CliniCult that are already operating in the advanced standard to connect to different systems and applications and maintain medical information accessible to the right people to assist in providing better medical care for patients.



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