As reported by Politico, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner found herself in hot water when she told Joe Biden that, irrespective of access, he wouldn’t understand his medical record. The social health infosphere was outraged.
My take: Judy was wrong to imply that Joe shouldn’t have access to his stuff. Judy was right to suggest that a chunk of Joe’s stuff is beyond what he can understand.
The issue’s important because while it may be cool to carry your MRI on a thumb drive it puts you no further ahead when you have any idea what it means. It’s the illusion of empowerment.
Our outrage over Faulkner’s comments conflates access with understanding. Access without the support necessary to understand is nothing more than a charade.
Access for patients is a start. Supporting patients around their information should be our endpoint. That’s real empowerment.
Addendum August 5 at 5 PM: I was contacted by an Epic spokesperson concerning the reported encounter between Judy and Senator Biden. They offered the following account which I feel comfortable adding:
“The recount of a portion of the January 2017 White House meeting is inaccurate and misleading. Vice President Joe Biden was consistently polite and positive to every person, including every vendor, in the meeting. Epic supports patients’ rights to access their entire record, something they have been able to do for decades. In the meeting, Judy raised an issue regarding the 21st Century Cures Act that would potentially require a patient’s EHR information be transmitted in a way that was ‘easy to understand.’ She said that a requirement to translate EHR medical terminology into patient-friendly language could be a barrier to getting the medical record out to patients. Vice President Biden agreed, saying “That’s actionable,” and requested that one of his staff get the requirement fixed.”
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