Back in April, I announced the formation of a new service at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Cardiovascular Institute ("CVI") . This unique new patient care program encompasses all of BIDMC’s cardiology, cardiac surgery and vascular clinical services. Perhaps a bit boastfully, but I believe accurately, I stated that "The CVI will provide patients with the highest quality care – delivered by some of the best physicians in the world – in an integrated fashion unparalleled anywhere in the country."
I explained to our staff: "This group will build an integrated program from the bottom up. It will reflect advanced technology and clinical practice, the skills and drive of our clinicians, and the underlying needs of our patients and families. By aligning the goals and daily activities of physicians, nurses, allied health staff, administrators and the medical center, the CVI will create new opportunities to promote quality and safety, improve efficiencies, serve a larger number of patients, and put into action the best practices in cardiovascular medicine."
The CVI has already made great progress towards these goals, but that is not why I am writing this post. I am writing to tell you about a thoughtful -- and patient-centered -- idea that has been implemented by Dr. Ralph de la Torre, MD, the CVI's president and CEO. You see it pictured above.
If you are a patient in the CVI, you will receive the red heart shown above when you are discharged. When you open it, you will find a memory stick with your own patient record recorded for your personal use. Let's say you leave to spend time at your winter home in Florida or go on vacation to Arizona -- or England --- and you need to see a doctor there, either in an office or in an emergency room. Rather than engaging in a cumbersome exchange of medical records between incompatible information systems, you simply hand over your heart memory stick, and the local doctor or hospital can view the relevant information about your recent treatment at our hospital.
The memory stick will work on any computer with Microsoft software. There is no HIPAA issue. You own and control your medical record and only you can authorize someone to view it.
So, indeed, any doctor you trust can have your information in a heartbeat. A reassuring thing to have in your pocket after you have been treated for cardiovascular problems.