Everyone knows the drill of going to the doctor's office or hospital, being handed a clipboard and writing answers to a long list of questions about your identity, health status and insurance.
Now there's a new multistakeholder initiative to automate that patient-intake process. “The goal is to make the first experience (going) into your GP, specialist or hospital as simple as buying coffee at Starbucks,” said Devin Jopp, CEO of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.
His group, along with the Sullivan Institute for Healthcare Innovation, convened a meeting last week of about 40 representatives of healthcare stakeholder groups to “create an industry blueprint around how to automate the patient-intake process,” according to a WEDI statement. HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT was there.
The goal is to get agreement on developing a “virtual clipboard,” a mobile application that will replace paper documents, medication reconciliation and insurance-card photocopying. Previous automation efforts have been frustrated by conflict among health plans on the best approach, said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser at the Medical Group Management Association.
Various moves have been made to tackle the problem. Mobile apps for scheduling appointments already are used. Some U.S. provider organizations and some European countries have tried smart cards to hold patient demographics, insurance and clinical information. For more than four years, the feds have touted the Blue Button technology developed by the Veterans Affairs Department as a way for patients to gather and transmit their records.
The new initiative established four workgroups. The first phase will enable patients to carry a mobile application with their demographic and insurance information in a format usable by providers. By the end of 2015, Jopp said, the groups will have studied the second phase, enabling patients to carry and exchange digitized “essential health information.”
Tennant was optimistic about the chances of success because of the participation of major health insurers, including Anthem, Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “It's not a meeting to discuss whether we should do this,” he said. “It's a get-together of those who said 'We will do this.' ”