Brad Feld

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The Elusive Electronic Health Record

Feb 19, 2007
Category Technology

My dad (Stan Feld) has been talking about the electronic medical record for as long as I can remember (probably 30+ years.)  As a kid, some of my early computer projects were trying to write a program that had some semblance of addressing this – well before I had any grounding in (or understanding of) databases, user-centric data entry (um – the “web” anyone?), or distributed data (um – the “Internet” anyone?)

When I finally learned what a relational database was (about 24 years ago – Btrieve was the first database that I mastered – yes – I’m old enough to have started with an ISAM instead of an RDBMS.) I got excited about the idea of building an electronic medical record.  I’m sure part of this was to please my dad – but part of it was because it seemed like such an obviously useful thing.

Over the last 24 years, I’ve watched numerous people and companies fail miserably at this.  In my first company, we did some consulting to a few larger health care organizations (really “multi-group medical practices and a few hospitals) around this but nothing really emerged, other than a couple of customer patient management systems that really had very little to do with the patient’s medical record.

30 years later Stan is still talking about it.   His post yesterday titled Electronic Health Record Part 2 continues a theme he’s been on for most of his career.  I’m sure there are plenty of other doctors out there that say something like “I believe a patient should be responsible for his / her medical history”, but I know my dad has been saying this to his patients since the day he started his medical practice.  My dad tells you how to solve the Personal Medical Record side of this equation today for $15 but goes much further by detailing the issues around The Complexity of the EMR Issue.

Over the last dozen years, I’ve seen many entrepreneuers and many business plans that proport to create a universal electronic medical record.  I still don’t have one and I know there isn’t a ubiquitous approach for this.  You’d think that with all the money that’s spent (and wasted) in our health care system, we’d be closer to a solution. 

If you are an entrepreneur that is working on this problem and you want to hear the issues from the belly of the beast, I’m sure Stan would be happy to talk to you.