By Casey Kozee, Senior Solutions Manager, Streamline Health, Inc.

Consumer focus on health records is really heating up. I recently searched Twitter for the phrase “medical records” and found that, between Aug-Sept 2015, the number of news tweets increased by 80% over the previous 6 months. It’s attracting a lot of media attention and people are starting to ask: “Where exactly is my medical record?” and “What kind of information is not included in my medical record?”

Welcome to the era of Consumer-Patients.

Consumer-Patients have heard that hospitals have been implementing electronic health records over the past several years. They have an expectation that their hospital must be the place that keeps all of their records together. They don’t necessarily understand the complexities that exist, serving as obstacles to assembling all of a patient’s information in one place. To that end, your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system should be helping you help your Consumer-Patients.

One strategy is to make your ECM’s Release of Information (ROI) process as effective and efficient as possible. How quickly can your ROI staff complete a Consumer-Patient’s request? Your ECM system should make the workflow easy for your ROI staff, enabling them to turn it around within 24 hours. Helping Consumer-Patients view their medical records quickly will also expedite the process of making any needed corrections.

Another question to consider: how complete is the information you’re releasing? Are you pulling information from your EHR separately from your ECM system? As a best practice, it’s recommended that you consolidate all information into your ECM system. This becomes the ‘legal health record’. You can count on it to be accurate, complete, and always available for satisfying a release request quickly.

Have your Consumer-Patients started asking you to include health data captured by their wearables (FitBits, Apple Watches, etc.) as part of their medical record? In a recent survey, 15% of doctors stated they’ve received such requests from patients. This may not currently seem feasible, although trials are ongoing and we’ll see this integration sooner rather than later. As the information available from these devices becomes richer and more valuable, we will start seeing practical uses for this data. It may not come from a consumer brand, but given the potential benefits, full-time monitoring will eventually happen. You will need a flexible ECM system that can import this information efficiently and make it available for review, diagnosis, and treatment planning.

I believe the Consumer-Patient trend is good for healthcare. It will help drive better integrations between disparate medical systems, as well as increasing patient engagement in care that supports more informed decisions. This tweet sums it up best: “These systems can lead to better health, better care, and better value for people across the country“. As a HIT provider—and a Consumer-Patient— I couldn’t agree more.