Drew Madden discusses need for universality of patient records

The U.S. healthcare system has become a $3 trillion boondoggle that is the shame of the industrialized world. Americans now spend nearly $10,000 per capita each year on medical care. That’s nearly three times the OECD average and orders of magnitude more than many countries with passable healthcare systems, like Cuba, spend.

One of the leading voices for deep reform of the American healthcare system over the last decade has been Drew Madden. Madden has spent his entire career in the medical consulting business. He is an expert on all major electronic hospital records software systems, one of the key structures that power modern medical care. He has also developed deep expertise in human systems and how technology and people can interface to create optimal patient outcomes.

Madden believes that one of the most important things that the United States can do to ensure that its healthcare system begins to bring costs into line with other developed countries is to make sure that electronic hospital records are both standardized and universally available throughout the entire country. One of the problems that Madden frequently discusses is the siloed nature of patient records.

As an example, Madden says that someone from Minnesota who travels to Hawaii and then needs some form of medical treatment is at imminent risk of doctors there not having access to their full patient records. This can create enormous problems for the patient. But more typically, it simply raises costs by fantastic numbers because doctors need to reperform many different tests, the results of which have already been well established in the patient’s medical history.

Someone who is admitted to a hospital for chest pain may have a long history of heart problems. But without this information, the attending doctors will need to reperform a battery of tests that may easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. With universal and standardized access to patient medical records, these sources of waste would be completely eliminated, saving hospitals, patients and, ultimately, insurance providers and their customers massive amounts. Madden says that we need to work on dislodging all interests that are opposed to these common-sense reforms.