Should the government let public health organizations provide public health records?
Author: Erika Pauliukeviciute
One of the socio-economy challenges our governments face is how to maintain public health in the most efficient manner. This includes establishing successful policies to combat complex issues related to people’s lifestyle and environmental factors, ensure high-quality health care facilities and affordability of medical access to everyone. Prevention of illness is one of the biggest concerns in public health organizations, as well as promotion of the best practices in diagnosis and treatments of those illnesses. According a recent article on public health in The Economist, many problems such as rising costs or wait times occur due to lack of knowledge and citizen control over their own health (2018).
The Apple company proposed a solution by creating a digital healthcare application: ‘Doctor You’. By providing access to your medical history, they give you an opportunity to receive all the medical treatments in a more efficient and less costly way. In order to make sure that this is going to be an efficient and effective way of treatments, one has to collect critical information based the comparison of patients with the same symptoms and how they responded to different treatments. The needed resources are the valuable health data which can be found in hospitals as a history of records of the patients. According to Halacha, a potential for quality improvement lies in ‘systematic collection and analysis of data’ (Halacha 1995). Citizens, by accessing their medical data, contribute to systematic data collection and improvement of medical algorithms. Sorting and analyzing this data could lead us to identify patterns in illnesses and provide the best options for treatments. Achieving this situation requires incentivizing innovation and transparency in public health organizations. However, should the government let public health organizations provide public health records to their citizens in order to ensure the prevention of illnesses and ensure high-quality health care?
In my opinion, the government should be able to provide medical record access to each citizen. Firstly, in order to improve the efficiency and the performance of public health organizations, the ‘Doctor you’ app creators need to improve the quality of performance information collected (Heinrich, 2007). Also, performance information can be improved by distinguishing a logic flow between different categories as inputs, outputs, and outcomes (Osborne et al., 1995). The ‘Doctor You’ application expands our scope of input information by combining complex software logarithms with medical records. These advances would lead us to better outcomes, namely, lower transactions costs, more effective treatments and overall faster usage of medical services. However, it can leave us with a question whether it would actually have a strong effect on overall health and improved statistics. On the other hand, we could ensure the transparency of public organizations and the improvement in scientific management which would make public organizations to be accountable to its citizens. Finally, transforming current challenges and improving access can boost performance and effectiveness which would bring better outcomes of digital healthcare.
(2018). A revolution in health care is coming. The Economist. Retrieved March 6, 2018, from https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21736138-welcome-doctor-you-revolution-health-care-coming
Heinrich, Carolyn J. (2007) ‘False or Fitting Recognition? The Use of High Performance Bonuses in Motivating Organizational Achievements’, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 26(2): 281−304.
Osborne, Stephen P., Boviard, Tony, Martin, Steve, Tricker, Mike, and Waterston, Piers (1995) ‘Performance Management and Accountability in Complex Programmes’, Financial Accountability and Management, 11(1): 19−37.
Heinrich, Carolyn J. (2012) ‘Measuring Public Sector Performance and Effectiveness’, The SAGE handbook of public administration, 32
Halachmi, Arie (1995) ‘Is TQM Ready for the Public Sector?’, in Arie Halachmi and Geert Bouckaert (eds), Public Productivity Through Quality and Strategic Management. Amsterdam: IOS Press.