If you’re getting health care in the U.S., chances are your providers are now trying to give you a better patient experience through a website called MyChart.
This is supposed to be yours, as the first person singular pronoun My implies. Problem is, it’s TheirChart. And there are a lot of them. I have four MyChart accounts with four health care providers, so far: one in New York, two in Santa Barbara, and one in Los Angeles. I may soon have another in Bloomington, Indiana. None are mine. All are theirs, and they mostly don’t get along. Especially with me.
Not surprisingly, all of them come from a single source: Epic Systems, the primary provider of back-end information tech to the country’s health care providers, including most of the big ones: the Harvard, Yale, Mayo, UCLA, UChicago, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, and others like them. But, even though all these MyChart portals are provided by one company, and (I suppose) live in one cloud, there appears to be no way for you, the patient, to make those things work together, or for you to provide them with data you already have from other sources. Which you could presumably do if My meant what it says.
The way they work is also often perverse. For example, a couple days ago, one of my doctors’ offices called to tell me we would need to have a remote consult before she changed one of my prescriptions. This, I was told, could not be done over the phone. It would need to be done over video inside MyChart. So now we have an appointment for that meeting on Monday afternoon, using MyChart.
I decided to get ahead of that by finding my way into the right MyChart and leaving a session open in a browser tab. Then I made the mistake of starting to type “MyChart” into my browser’s location bar, and then not noticing that my browser auto-completed the URL to one of the countless other MyCharts maintained by countless other health care providers. Then I wasted an hour or more, failing to log in and then failing to recover my login credentials. It wasn’t until I called the customer service number on the website that I found I was trying to get into a MyChart that looked like mine but was for some provider I’d never heard of. And which had never heard of me.
Now I’m in looking at one of my two MyCharts for Santa Barbara, where it shows no upcoming visits. I can’t log into the other one to see if the Monday appointment is noted there, because that MyChart doesn’t know who I am. So I’m hoping to unfuck that one on Monday before the call on whichever MyChart I’ll need to use. Worst case, I’ll just tell the doctor’s office that we’ll have to make do with a phone call. If they answer the phone, that is.
Just one story among millions.
The problem is, we have hundreds or thousands of isolated health care providers here, all using one company’s back end to provide personal health care information to millions of patients through hundreds or thousands of different portals, all called the same thing (or something close), while providing no way for patients to gather their own data from multiple sources and look at it or use it in sensible ways in that system. Or any system.
To call this fubar understates the problem.
Here’s what matters: Epic can’t solve this. Nor can any or all of these separate health care systems. Because none of them are you.
And you’re where the solution needs to happen. You need a simple-and standardized way to collect and manage your own health-related information and engagements with multiple health care providers.
This doesn’t mean you need to be out there your own. You need expert help. In the old days, you used to get that through your primary care physician. But large health care operations have been hoovering up private practices for years, and one of the big reasons for that has been to make the data management side of medicine easier for physicians and their many associated providers.
In the midst of this there presists a market hole where your representation in the health care marketplace needs to sit. I know of one example of how that might work: the HIE of One. (HIE is Health Information Exchange.) For all our sakes, somebody please fund that work.
Far too much time, sweat, money, and blood is being spilled trying to solve this problem from the center outward. (For a few details on how awful that is, start reading here.)
While we’re probably never going to make health care in the U.S. something other than the B2B insurance business it has become. But we can at least start working on a Me2B solution in the place it most needs to work: with patients. Because we’re the ones who need to be in full command of our relationships with our providers as well as with our selves.
Health care, by the way, is just one category that cries out for solutions that can only come from the customers’ side. Customer Commons has a list of fourteen, including this one.