Nationwide health information exchange (NHIE) continues to be a persistent concern for government agencies, despite the many efforts and the conceived benefits of sharing patient data among healthcare providers. Difficulties in ensuring global connectivity, interoperability, and concerns on security have always hampered the government from successfully deploying NHIE. By looking at NHIE from a fresh perspective and bearing in mind the pervasiveness and power of modern mobile platforms, this paper proposes a new approach to NHIE that builds on the notion of consumer-mediated HIE, albeit without the focus on central health record banks. With the growing acceptance of smartphones as reliable, indispensable, and most personal devices, we suggest to leverage the concept of mobile personal health records (PHRs installed on smartphones) to the next level. We envision mPHRs that take the form of distributed storage units for health information, under the full control and direct possession of patients, who can have ready access to their personal data whenever needed. However, for the actual exchange of data with health information systems managed by healthcare providers, the latter have to be interoperable with patient-carried mPHRs. Computer industry has long ago solved a similar problem of interoperability between peripheral devices and operating systems. We borrow from that solution the idea of providing special interfaces between mPHRs and provider systems. This interface enables the two entities to communicate with no change to either end. The design and operation of the proposed approach is explained. Additional pointers on potential implementations are provided, and issues that pertain to any solution to implement NHIE are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science Applications
- Health Informatics