You value privacy in your health care, but if that privacy prevented your primary MD and a specialist or two from coordinating your various treatments, you might feel differently. And the state of Minnesota seems to be leading the charge in enabling MDs, paramedics, and ER clinicians to share information when needed.
I assert this is even more crucial for people with long-term mental illness. Family and friends, strained by the person’s unpredictable or unpleasant behavior, may be unavailable or unwilling to take the time to advocate for the patient. When docs can’t access the treatment and medication history needed to create a personalized treatment plan–look out! People are misdiagnosed, prescribed duplicate or previously intolerable meds, and are at great risk for relapse or re-hospitalization.
Many of us remember the Community Mental Health Act, passed during JFK’s administration. The Act funded construction of outpatient community mental health centers, with the good intention of making the psych unit obsolete. Medical and treatment monitoring boosted patient autonomy and positive self-image. Unfortunately, the under-funded programs didn’t translate into enough centers to accommodate the many people who needed them.
Because of the push from government budget concerns, groups of hospitals, home care agencies, and physician practices are finally collaborating. Sharing information via integrated software networks is permitted as patients sign a release upon admission. Having sympathized at the bedside with hundreds of patients insisting “their doctors never talk to each other,” I know this is not an isolated problem.
Whether or not I am a JFK-admirer is not the point. I think JFK would be encouraged and pleased with Minnesota’s Community Health Network. Not to mention coalitions such as Rush University Medical Center’s Bridge Program, here in my good ‘ol Chicago.