The filmmaker's objective was not to start a patient-led movement for better health information exchanges. But the way audiences react when they learn their EHRs are largely unable to be shared may spur them into action.
One may pound podiums in Congress or write convincingly about the sorry state of interoperability among healthcare IT systems, but Kevin Johnson, MD, made a movie, and judging by audience reaction at early screenings, he may be awakening the public at large about this mess.
Patients who believe that their electronic health records can already follow them wherever they go in the U.S. have been leaving the screenings "shocked and angry," Johnson told a post-screening audience at last week's annual symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association in San Francisco.
In fact, Johnson says, 70% of U.S. patients believe medical records follow them, when in fact the sad truth today is that only 25% of the U.S. is covered by health information exchanges.
To change this, Johnson produced No Matter Where, a documentary supported by funding from the Office of the National Coordinator, from the state of Tennessee, and from other sources.
A centerpiece of the film is the contrast between two very different disasters—Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, where paper records on 800,000 patients were destroyed by storm and flood—and the tornado that hit Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma in 2013, where the local HIE preserved medical records and followed Moore patients to surrounding area hospitals without skipping a beat.
A More Impactful Way to Communicate
So who is Kevin Johnson? "I'm a pediatrician," he says. "I've been doing clinical informatics research since basically 1989." After stints at Johns Hopkins and Stanford, he ended up at Vanderbilt, where he is currently assistant vice chancellor for health IT, Cornelius Vanderbilt professor and chair of biomedical informatics, and professor of pediatrics.
Eventually, he realized that research papers end up having too limited an impact. So, inspired by TED talks, he turned to the idea of "vision videos" to communicate new ideas. This led him to focus on the nation's effort to make healthcare data interoperable, or at least to have it follow patients—the very essence of health information exchanges.
Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.