How Hospital Administrators Are Obstructing Medical Record Exchange APIs

Bruce Fryer | Programmable Web | September 12, 2017

Medical record exchange is a major topic in healthcare, needed to improve healthcare outcomes (and reduce costs) for multiple patients receiving care at multiple sites.  The discussion in the industry primarily focuses on technical challenges. In reality, many of the technical challenges have been addressed. A big factor in the inability of medical record exchange is the hospitals themselves. They block information and APIs. I’ve had two experiences with getting medical records.

Last year a family member was hospitalized at St. Joseph Hospital, which is part of the Emory Healthcare system in Atlanta. Because there were problems putting together the prior medical records from another hospital across the street (they never got them), I set up a Microsoft HealthVault account for any future issues. HealthVault can import the XML Continuity of Care Document (CCD). While the CCD is a summary (use your browser to reveal the source on this example to get an idea of the XML structure that’s involved), it contains important information about the patient such as medications, conditions, and laboratory tests.

St. Joseph has a Cerner Electronic Medical Record system and the Cerner patient portal. In the patient portal you can also send secure Direct messages. When I logged into the Emory system I could not find the CCD anywhere. The hospital told me to call Cerner support. Turns out the Cerner patient portal does support the CCD. Emory had disabled the feature...