Meaningful Use: How Patient Should Patients Be?

Greg Goth | Government Health IT | October 27, 2011

I mean no disrespect to the people who crafted the 800-plus pages of the HITECH meaningful use regulations, but I am only half-joking when I offer a slightly abbreviated vision of MU:

The day a cancer patient's wife doesn't have to ask for a lab report to be faxed to her, so she can scan it, convert it to a commonly available format, and email it to another doctor, but can instead say, “Can you e-mail a copy of that to Dr. X? And cc me on that?” is the day the healthcare industry will have truly achieved meaningful use. And not one day before.

I've been covering the healthcare and technology industries for 15 years. For the first 13 of those years, every story was approached in the best third-person, arm's-length perspective journalists are trained to assume. But after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer late in 2009, I began the profoundly first-person odyssey of researching clinical trial results, of evaluating hospitals and physicians, and of trying to find a way to give myself the best shot at beating the malignancy and getting on with a normal life...