I love the phrase “liberate the data” and what we are doing to accomplish that lofty goal. But if we liberate the data – with appropriate security and auditing – what problems would it help solve? There are three big reasons to liberate healthcare data:

#1 – Give patients access to their own healthcare data.

Of course you want to be able to see what’s in your medical records. For most of us, we have data in multiple physicians’ systems. You should be able to review them just like you can review your credit report. If there is a mistake, such as a missing allergy or discontinued medication, you can fix it.

If you want to share your information with a relative or trusted friend, or donate data to a clinical repository for research, you should be able to do that. It’s your data.

#2 – Enable providers to access patient data.

If you end up in the emergency room, you want that physician to know what medications you’re taking, allergies, blood type, and anything that will help that doctor take better care of you. If you are referred to a specialist, or move to another city, your data should be able to flow freely and directly to your new caregiver.

It should not be up to you to have to ferry the data around. We should never have to answer the question “What are you allergic to?” or “When was your last tetanus shot?” ever again. Should the physician have to depend on your memory for critical pieces of clinical information?

#3 – Use combined data for new approaches and technologies.

If there was some breakthrough in genetics (like the discovery that the BRCA gene mutation predicts breast cancer), wouldn’t you want to be able to use that information to help you decide what you need to do? In some cases, that would put your mind at ease. In other cases, you would know what to watch for. And in other cases, it might suggest a change in direction.

Why can’t health care simply borrow technology used in other industries? Innovation comes from all kinds of places. If it comes from outside the health information technology company, there needs to be a bridge that enables providers and patients to use that technology to build a healthier world.

How do you liberate data in a diverse environment?

One approach in Health IT is to say you accomplish all of these data liberation initiatives “as soon as everyone switches to our software.” The Toyota Camry may be the best-selling car in the U.S., but can any of us imagine a day when everyone drives a Camry? Of course there will continue to be diversity in cars, phones and Health IT.

So now I’m going to sound a little like a commercial, but I really like the Allscripts strategy and story here, of how we liberate data in a diverse environment:

Approach #1 – Allscripts FollowMyHealth® was built to give patients access to their data. From its very first installation, it could connect to six different companies’ products, and the list keeps growing. Because as a patient, you should not be required to log in to multiple web sites to examine your medical records. A portal should homogenize and simplify data to help patients understand their information. Because you won’t act on information if you don’t understand it.

Approach #2 – Allscripts dbMotion™ Solution enables providers to access patient data. Recognizing it is not nearly enough to merely connect to Allscripts products. dbMotion connects across the board to dozens of other company’s products. In fact in Israel, all 8 million citizens’ data is accessible at all points of care through dbMotion, so wherever they go in Israel, their caregivers can see all of their information. Don’t you wish you had that for your family?

Approach #3 – Open is about working as a team and building bridges to improve health care. We’re doing that now, with more than 130 applications written by our clients and partners. In fact, in 2015 alone, we shared data with partners more than 500,000,000 times. That’s over half-a-billion times that we either sent data to a partner, or they sent data to be stored in the electronic health record (EHR).

These three approaches address every aspect of letting the healthcare data flow. That’s what we’re doing to help “liberate the data.”

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About the author

Stanley Crane is Chief Innovation Officer for Allscripts. In his more than 30 years of healthcare and consumer-related software experience, he has led the development of award-winning software programs including electronic health record, electronic prescribing, web-based medication sales, online physician education, resource scheduling, financial systems, materials management, medical translation software and voice recognition dictation systems. Previous to his healthcare experience, Stanley was involved in Silicon Valley, where he held positions with many well-known software companies. As the General Manager of Lotus cc:Mail, he created the first remote mail products. He was also the Vice President of Engineering at WordStar International, and Director of Applications at Ashton-Tate, managing their Macintosh products as well as dBase IV. Before that, Stanley was a founder of two Internet startups – MaxMiles, an automated frequent flier mileage aggregator, for whom he built the first versions of the product; and Shopping@Home, a company that was acquired by Allscripts in 1999 to support medication sales.

3 COMMENTS on Liberate the data: 3 approaches to advance health care


BOC Sciences says:

02/23/2016 at 4:22 am

Totally agree. The open access for patients to their own healthcare data may lead to a higher level of understanding to the professional terms, then gaining more medical knowledge.


Pierre Cadieux says:

03/07/2016 at 4:57 pm

I worked at Purkinje (purkinje.com) for 3 years and was architect for their medical “knowledge” base; a bilingual tree structure of some 300,000 clinical terms for data entry. The main problem was that as the terminology grew, how did one maintain semantic comparability between clinical notes?
This is the problem that SNOMED RT (and the GALEN folk) was trying to address, a semantic model of clinical information. It seems to me that this is required in order to truly create patient centric data. To be clear, a simple example is when one system measures pain on a scale of 1 to 10, and another on a scale of 1 to 5.
Standards such as SNOMED, HL-7, ICD-10, DSM 5 help, but do not provide the complete solution. Is Allscripts working on this problem?

Stanley Crane says:

03/08/2016 at 12:26 pm

I think of this like playing golf. If we stand on the tee until we are confident we’ll hit a hole in one, we will never get off the tee. Our approach is to get off the tee and solve as much of the problem as you can with a good drive – in this case use the existing standards you mention as a good starting place which would get us down the fairway and solve a significant part of the problem. And then iterate from there as new standards are defined.

Where we are today, we have a huge problem in front of us trying to liberate the data in a way that can be understood by other systems. So start with problems, allergies, medications and immunizations – then add in results, history and so forth.

I think we have to do what we can do now, and layer in more & more as the standards continue to evolve. Allscripts alone cannot define the standard, but we’ll participate with industry groups working to define the vocabularies we use in liberating the data.


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