"They use this data to help us buy more stuff from them. Why don't we do that in healthcare?" Thomas asked.
Thomas suggested that patients be handed a tablet when they check in at a health care office to let them list family medical history, current conditions, current and past medications and other information.
Conversely, healthcare systems should be able to access insurance claims data so that they have more complete patient information that can then be automatically added to a personal electronic medical record (EMR). If a patient goes to another healthcare facility, the claims data should automatically update their primary facility, he said.
"Even though our system may be integrated, one-third of patient care happens in other hospitals and clinics," he said. "We have to have all that data put together."
Thomas challenged IT executives to learn what patients want and to help create systems that address those needs, while cutting costs and improving care.
"When we put systems in, do they provide better and safer patient experiences? Can you check that box? Do you have a situation where you're helping to optimize it?" Thomas said. "Are you helping us optimize systems? Do you understand the problems we face as an organization?"
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