by Paul Brannan, PMP, Alabama Health Information Technology Coordinator, Director – Alabama One Health Record®
“Your mission, should you decide to accept it…..” Those who are older remember Peter Graves listening to this message on a reel to reel tape recorder on the old Mission Impossible television show. More recently Tom Cruise has expanded the franchise into several motion pictures. In each episode of either series a crack team was assembled to attempt what was very important and seemingly impossible, yet turned out to be just extremely difficult.
It might seem that true healthcare information interoperability – the seamless transmission of healthcare data from one medical provider to another in a readily usable format– is an impossible task. I am a glass half full guy. I believe that interoperability is not impossible, just extremely complex. As hard as it might seem to believe, there was no online banking 40 years ago. You had to show up in person at a bank to get your money. Now people seldom set foot in a brick and mortar bank. Tax returns could only be filed on paper in 1984. Until 2005 more than half of income tax returns were still filed on paper.
I intentionally used banking and tax returns as examples since they, like health care, are often considered highly confidential. Banking records are very interoperable today. On a trip last year I was able to easily withdraw cash from my US bank account at an ATM in Scotland. This is made possible by Federal Reserve banks that electronically transfers funds between member institutions. We take for granted the convenience and security of financial records flowing electronically. Time and use have made such transactions commonplace occurrences.
I am convinced the day is approaching where healthcare information will have the freedom of movement that banking records currently have. There is too much value in having a complete medical record at the point of care for it not to happen. The same widespread internet adoption that makes web banking practical also makes the electronic sharing of records possible. All that is needed is a federal reserve bank for healthcare records. That’s where a health information exchange like One Health Record® comes in. We can provide the mechanism for health records to seamlessly flow between two connected providers. And just as the Federal Reserve has security standards to protect these transactions, One Health Record® complies with all industry standards to protect the health information of Alabamians. One day (hopefully soon) time and use will make such transactions commonplace occurrences.
It was fun to watch how the Mission Impossible team pulled off the seemly impossible by working together. I am excited to be part of the mission impossible team to make health care exchange the norm in Alabama. Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to join the team looking to make healthcare interoperable. Please contact us for more information on what role you can play.
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Paul Brannan was appointed by the Governor to serve as the state’s coordinator for health information technology in 2015. He previously served as Director of the Project Management Office for the Alabama Medicaid Agency where he was responsible for providing project management support for all enterprise-wide Agency projects including Medicaid’s transition to Regional Care Organizations.