Personal experiences often lead to compelling innovations. For Susanne Fortunato, an undiagnosed teenage illness launched her on a career path, and ultimately to founding her own health tech company. Along the way, she learned a lot about the state of technology in healthcare today and the gaps that have yet to be filled.
In 2004, President George W. Bush launched an effort to spur the development of health information technology, including the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). Over the intervening years, that push has expanded with regulations requiring all healthcare providers in the U.S. to use EHRs for scheduling, documenting, and treating patients.
The goals behind this effort are laudable – higher patient engagement, a streamlined healthcare experience, cost savings, and improved care outcomes. The results have largely been positive. Multiple care providers can access a shared patient’s charts for more coordinated care, pharmacies receive electronic prescription orders, and approved family members or caretakers can access patient portals to assist loved ones.
But these systems also come with downsides and areas of murky coverage. Some physicians and staff complain of the stress and inconvenience these obligatory systems can place on teams. Customization and multiple providers across EHRs mean that not all health systems or providers can access records seamlessly, leading to breakdowns in treatment or communication. And patients can be confused by protocols, information, and who has access to their sensitive information.
Unfortunately, it was this latter reality in which Fortunato found herself. Faced with confusing information, overlapping doctors, and a mysterious illness, she suffered through a three-year odyssey seeking help. She credits a decidedly old-school approach to ultimately solving her health puzzle.
When her treating physicians and their technology systems proved insufficient, Fortunato created a 3-inch binder filled with all her medical information and records that she lugged