PODCAST: Health IT Analysts React to Biden, Faulkner, and Patients’ Access to Medical Records

Aug. 10, 2017
On this latest Healthcare Informatics podcast, two health IT analysts talk about how Judy Faulkner’s comments to Joe Biden landed, what level of access and ownership patients should have over their data, the role of vendors, and more.

The most buzzworthy topic in health IT over the last week has undoubtedly been a debate around patient access to medical records that stemmed from a Politicoreport in which Greg Simon, president of the Biden Cancer Initiative, recalled an exchange between former Vice President Joseph Biden and Epic CEO Judy Faulkner. According to Simon, Faulkner said, “Why do you want your medical records? They’re a thousand pages of which you understand 10”. To which Biden replied, “None of your business. If I need to, I’ll find someone to explain them to me and, by the way, I will understand a lot more than you think I do.”

It was this recounted conversation that created somewhat of a Twitter storm among several industry observers (Readers are also encouraged to read Dr. Dave Levin’s recent commentary on the matter).

At the center of this debate has been Niam Yaraghi, Ph.D., a fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation, who had some strong opinions on why people were missing the point on the message that Faulkner was trying to get across as well as the far bigger problem that it speaks to.

On this latest Healthcare Informatics podcast, Yaraghi and Matthew Loxton, principal analyst at healthcare consulting firm Whitney, Bradley & Brown (who was also involved in the Twitter discussion) talk about how Faulkner’s comments landed, what level of access and ownership patients should have over their data, what role vendors should play in providing that access, and much more.

During the 30-minute podcast, both Yaraghi and Loxton said that they thought Faulkner’s tone to Biden was condescending (Loxton said it was as if she was “flipping off” patients), but there is a bigger issue at hand, they stated: up to this point, there has not been a true business case presented to EHR (electronic health record) companies related to patients owning their data.

To this point, Yaraghi compared the situation to online banking, a system in which consumers frequently pay for a service that sends their money to other banks. “You own every penny of your money in your bank account. Why are people completely ok with paying a fee to access their own money in a bank…but when it comes to medical data, it’s different logic?” asked Yaraghi.

Listen to the entire conversation below, and remember, you can listen to all Healthcare Informatics podcasts right here.