Coverage & Commentary

Stop the insanity: It’s time for health data to enter the 21st Century

Imagine you’re at the checkout counter in a supermarket. After the cashier rings up all your groceries, you insert your debit card into the chip-and-pin machine and the cashier hands you a pen and a clipboard with some densely worded paperwork. “Please read and complete these forms, then sign and initial where indicated to authorize this transaction,” he says.

Assuming you do as requested and the people in line behind you haven’t started to riot, the cashier then tells you that your authorizations will be entered into the system and you will be notified in five to seven business days when your transaction is completed and your groceries can be released to you, and by the way, you may also have to re-shop for all your items at that time.

Sounds a bit insane, doesn’t it?

And yet this is the same process most people in America encounter when they utilize health or medical services.