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IBM Research

IBM Research - Almaden

Healthcare Information Infrastructure

 Independent Health Record Banks

Today’s healthcare market is in a great state of change. Today we spend $T 1.5 on healthcare nationally but the system is plagued with inefficiency and risk in large part due to an archaic information infrastructure. Britain, Canada, and Australia, facing a similar situation, have all initiated and invested in major national programs. Britain will spend over £B 6.3 to modernize their National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII) over two years. There is no equivalent consensus for a US NHII investment on this scale.  As part of our broader IBM Research Strategy to help improve the delivery of healthcare in the United States, we are investigating new models to implement a national infrastructure leveraging innovate solutions by private enterprise. New approaches that meet the Social Contract for medicine in the U.S. must empower individuals to take control over their own health records. We believe one attractive solution can be achieved through the creation of a new market offering a choice of Health Record Banks (HRBs).[1]  An individual may choose an HRB run the organization they trust the most.

The IBM Research Healthcare team is building a prototype HRB in partnership with companies that deliver personalized electronic health records to individuals.  We believe HRBs may be an attractive and cost effective solution for the United States market. The HRB structure provides a social contract that allows individuals to manage their own health records. It is also a non partisan solution that does not require central government control or financing of a new National infrastructure but at the same time it does not put the full burden of building the infrastructure on hospitals. Like regular banks, HRBs can be regulated to define the privacy protections and policies for the care of patient data. Large provider networks may chose to offer HRB services but are not required to do so (and may prefer to have this I/T mission taken on by others so they can focus on their core priority - delivering healthcare).

[1] Shabo, A., Vortman P. and Robson B. (2001). Who’s Afraid of Lifetime Electronic Medical Records? In proceedings of TEHRE – Towards Electronic Health Records Conference, London, UK, November 2001.



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