The head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says she has a personal stake in improving the state U.S. health records, because she knows what it’s like to have to struggle to get and understand a loved one’s records.
Seema Verma, President Donald Trump’s CMS administrator, talked about the need to make health record data standards stick Thursday in Washington, at the Health Datapalooza conference.
She repeated a new version of a story she told at another health technology meeting in March: an account about what happened to her in the summer of 2017, when she was already the CMS administrator, and her husband’s heart stopped while he was in the airport in Philadelphia.
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Her husband’s doctors had questions for her about her husband’s medical history.
“Unfortunately, I had few answers,” Verma said, according to a written version of her remarks posted by CMS. “Eventually, due to the talent and tenacity of the medical team, they diagnosed him and saved his life.”
Once Verma’s husband was discharged, she asked for his medical records.
“The hospital eventually gave me a five-page discharge summary…and a CD-ROM,” Verma said. “That’s right. After spending $30 billion on making our health data interoperable, I left with a CD-ROM, which was, incidentally, incomplete. When I finally found a way to review the CD-ROM, I realized it didn’t even have his MRI and other tests results. And all of the data that the hospital collected on their monitoring machines was also missing.”
Patients need to be able to see the information that comes from MRI machines, heart monitors and blood sugar meters, Verma said.
“We need for these devices to share data and be interoperable just as much as we need doctors’ notes and medication lists to be interoperable,” Verma said.