The Evolution of Medical Science

The World's First X-ray Device

The medical industry evolves quickly and new advancements seem to occur almost weekly.  It is always instructive to look back 50 or a hundred years for real perspective on how far along the industry has come.  The work you will do upon enterring this field as a medical biller/coder will surely look very different 50 years from today.  We can only wonder what it may look like.  We know that electronic records keeping is a growing trend that will change the face of the medical office.  Dutch medical inventors H J Hoffmans and Lambertus Theodorus van Kleef couldn’t have imagined the modern MRI or CAT scanner when they developed the world’s first x-ray scanner in the late 1800s.  Read about their breakthrough in this fascinating article.

An Innovative Use for Medical Records

Science News reports of an innovative new way that researchers are using medical records for genetics research.  Obviously, patients’ medical records, in aggregate, contain a treasure trove of useful data to researchers seeking patterns that can be used in the study of genetics and disease.  However as you’re fully aware, privacy is of eminent concern when it comes to patient records.According to the Science News article, “Databases that link thousands of people’s DNA profiles to their medical histories are a powerful tool for researchers who want to use genetics to individualize the diagnosis and treatment of disease. But this promise of personalized medicine comes with concerns about patient privacy. Now scientists have come up with a way to alter personal medical information so it’s still meaningful for research, but meaningless to someone trying to ID an individual in a database.”To learn how they rendered anonymous the information contained in medical records read the entire article here courtesy of Wired Magazine.

The March of Progress in Medicine

1800s-surgeryStudents of Allen School Online ought to be very proud of themselves for being at the forefront of change in the medical industry.  The next decade will usher in radical changes in the way medical billing and coding are performed.  The inevitable transition from paper-based procedures to electronic medical filing will allow you to be one of those who “remembers the old way we used to do this”. Continue reading…

File Under: Easier Said Than Done

Of all the individual ideas for healthcare reform proposed by President Obama, the notion of transitioning to a fully electronic process for the maintenance of medical records would seem to be the most obvious. It also seems like one of the easier things to accomplish, given the other, more ambitious reforms on the agenda. After all, its clear that the technology for such complex electronic record keeping already exists and is currently in use by other industries. Yet nearly two decades after the beginning of the information revolution, while the technology has grown exponentially there has been little will to apply it to medical record keeping.President Obama was not the first inhabitant of the White House to suggest that enormous savings could be captured through the application of information science and Internet technology to replace old, paper based data management. Maximizing efficiency is one, legitimate way the insurance industry could keep the climbing costs of healthcare down without cutting service levels. Presidents G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton also supported moving in this direction. So what are the obstacles?Among the roadblocks to adoption of widespread Electronic Medical Records or EMRs in the US are such issues as:Interoperability – the ability (or inability) of disparate computer systems to “speak” with one another. Doctors’ offices, hospitals, labs, insurers, public health institutions, etc. Privacy – developing protocols for transfer of data among the numerous providers in a way that protects personal information (partially addressed in HIPAA)Legacy Data Capture – the logistics involved in scanning and entering existing patients’ medical histories into the system to avoid discarding valuable, historical, medical perspectiveChange Management – the process of fostering adoption of new technologies and practices across entire enterprise level industries is challengingOther obstacles to adoption include: cost of implementation, unclear standards across all programs, problematic legal issues (digital signatures and data preservation procedures etc.).Everyone seems to agree that implementing EMRs in the US is a worthy goal. Yet, as with so many goals worth achieving, this one is easier said than done.