You Should Own Your Health Information

You should own your information, especially when it comes to your health and wellness. Unfortunately, health care consumers don't have easy access to their own healthcare information, and this can lead to serious problems. 

I firmly believe that you, the patient, health care consumer, or however you want to describe yourself, should be the sole owner of your healthcare information. When you visit a new doctor, you should take your health information with you, like a thumb drive or a credit card with an information chip. 

With your permission, your doctor would review and evaluate you and your health information before making any treatment decisions. This would be closer to ideal than our current system in which healthcare systems or large hospital systems own your health information.

This may become problematic or even life threatening if your health records are kept with one hospital system, but you have to go to a different hospital system because of an accident or injury. Mistakes can be made if you lose consciousness and are unable to communicate your past medical history, allergies, and preferences. 

Some hospital systems are beginning to allow patients access to their personal health information, but it is often through proprietary applications that may be difficult to navigate and even more difficult to share with different health systems or physicians. 

In my practice with Plum Health Direct Primary Care, I consciously and deliberately share and make clear your health information. Of course, I only give you this information with your written permission. I share your information, lab results, diagnoses and treatment plans because it will allow us to make better decisions together.

I believe that when you are well-informed about your health status and equipped with the necessary information, we can make the best decisions about your health and treatment plans. 

Furthermore, if you choose to seek a second opinion, the consulting doctor will have easy access to the information we discussed, and will therefore be able to make a better decision. 

On a related note, I am really excited about the recent FDA approval for Direct-to-Consumer marketing of Genetic Health Information, namely 23andMe's Health + Ancestry product. 

With only a saliva sample, 23andMe is able to produce a genetic health profile, with 10 potential genetic diseases including Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease.

There are some pros and cons to this information. As I've stated above, with more information, you can make better decisions about your health care and how you want to live your life. On the down side, you may have a test with false positive or false negative results, or you may not understand the results at all. 

In the case of a false positive, this would mean that you have tested positive for a condition that you may not have or may not develop. In the case of a false negative, this would mean that you have tested negative for a condition that you actually have or will develop. 

These imperfections considered, I still think personal genetic testing will be a valuable tool as we move forward in this new health care ecosystem. It will enable patients and doctors to make better decisions about treatment. This is especially true as genetic profiles become more sophisticated and we may begin to learn how different genetic profiles are affected by different medications. 

Thanks so much for reading and watching and have a wonderful day,

- Dr. Paul Thomas with Plum Health DPC