- On Thursday, Oracle Founder and President Larry Ellison announced that Oracle is building a “unified national health record database” in addition to the thousands of separate hospital databases that exist in the United States today, but the offer for interoperability faces. significant future obstacles and industry skepticism.
- The goal of the database is to provide providers from different states and systems with access to patient records in the event of an emergency and provide researchers with real-time information on parameters such as disease incidence to help shape policy responses.
- An Oracle spokesperson declined to answer further questions about the timeline, pricing, and external access of the new database, but told Healthcare Dive it would be a “standards-based system open to all.”
Deepening on diving:
Despite federal regulations designed to incentivize free electronic sharing of health data between organizations, medical data in the United States is highly isolated. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed numerous gaps in the U.S. medical system, including a lack of aggregate data, which has hampered public health response and led some researchers to renew efforts to create structures that combine patient data. .
Proposals to centralize medical records weren’t new before the coronavirus pandemic, but efforts to do so have yet to materialize.
Oracle and Cerner, both leaders in their respective fields, will benefit from economies of scale, but it’s not entirely clear what the two will bring to the table to realize this vision, according to Patrick Murta, BehaVR’s chief platform architect. Previously, Murta led Humana’s interoperability platform.
“There is nothing in the union to make it more feasible,” Murta said. “There is a healthy skepticism that they will have the magic wand to overcome any existing barrier to interoperability.”
Details are vague about the new project, which could reshape the nation’s health interoperability landscape, but is likely to encounter problems including: data fragmentation and standardization, security and privacy, different state laws and regulations, and buy-in from others. EHR suppliers.
It is unclear whether Oracle has reached out to other vendors to discuss the potential for adding their records.
A Meditech spokesperson said the EHR vendor had “no formal awareness” from Oracle about the project, while Allscripts and Epic did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
Athenahealth declined to comment on whether it intends to share the records with the database.
The announcement “could also provide more caution for others,” Murta said. “If you are a competitor of Cerner and have now joined an even larger organization, I naturally don’t see how that feels good about joining this national database.”
Centralizing a large EHR dataset could potentially be a goldmine for Oracle, which could leverage the database for life science research and product development. Oracle has only shared two use cases for the new system so far. For one, it would provide anonymous data to public health officials and researchers, to identify new viruses, build artificial intelligence models, or allow a local government to see the number of hospital beds available in their city, Ellison said.
Additionally, doctors in a new hospital that does not have a patient’s medical record could turn to Oracle’s database for their medical data.
“What’s your blood type, what are your allergies, what medications are you currently taking, do you have a stent in your heart? They get all of this information instantly,” Ellison said Thursday at an Oracle event about the Cerner acquisition.
That future is also something the government is trying to accomplish with its nationwide data exchange framework finalized earlier this year. The voluntary framework would allow doctors to query participating networks for patient data.