My Medical Record Number Or My Email?

Not a number

Does healthcare want my medical record number or my email? Which do I value more? When am I willing to share my personal email? Are we more than just a number?

Questions we should all stop and ask ourselves.

When we step into the world of healthcare we become a medical record number (MRN).

The MRN is a number that identifies us and links our medical story, past and present, to our care providers. It also links the billing of those services to us. However it is not as simple as a social security number, where one number rules them all.

If we happen to go to ACME healthcare and visit the outpatient clinic we may have one medical record number. If we happen to have a bad reaction in the middle of the evening and need to go to the ACME Hospital Emergency Room, we may be assigned a different medical record number.

If we happen to skip ACME Hospital ER and decide to go to Smith Hospital ER because it is closer, guess what, another medical record number.

Healthcare organizations prefer medical record numbers because it gives them ownership of the person/patient. The hope is that if they collect and store your information, that they “know” your past and present, that they are better equipped to care for you. It is also complicated and time consuming to ask for your records, your images, and other notes to go from one organization to the next.

So when I attend HIMSS-2016 this year in Las Vegas I will be looking for a better solution, the email address.

I am looking for the vendor, startup, or medical technology company that is willing to move beyond the enterprise of a healthcare organization. A company that wants to enable the patient to own their health information regardless of the enterprise they may frequent.

Organizations (healthcare and vendors) are being short sighted in the race to win market share, attention, and $hare of wallet while focusing on the enterprise.

In my opinion, everyone is running when they should be swimming.

An enterprise can only “own” (collect and store) a patient if they use the services restricted within that enterprise. Once a patient decides to leave and seek service else where the enterprise looses their ownership of the patient. (leverage is shifted to patient)

So what is the one thing that all enterprises have in common?

People as patients.

Why not create something that offers value to the masses? A value that people as patients are willing to share their time, attention, and email address with you?

All of us have an email address that we hold sacred, precious, and only use for important work.

A service that provides the ability for my medical story to travel with me regardless of where in the world I am located and independent of the medical enterprise caring for me.

A service that not only stores and collects my information as a patient, but a service that also stores and collects my information from my health self as well? A service that can suggest recommendations based on my natural patterns of living, travel, work, activity, social circles, and my medical conditions? A service that can educate me as I age, grow, move, and take on new adventures in my life.

A service that spans my entire life story.

A service that knows me and is as personalized and specific as my email address.

The future is not about assigning numbers to runners in a race.

The future is about teaching people to swim and fish, helping people select safe water to drink today, and informing people of the next hurricane or tsunami before it strikes and preventing any causalities.

I hope to connect with people at HIMSS-2016 that are willing to swim while everyone else is running. If I do, I will be more than willing to share my email with them.

See you at HIMSS-2016.

If you want to design the future, drop me an email, follow the tribe (, or call us at: 872.701.0913

As always, feel free to email me directly at: (yes, I shared my sacred email with the world)



2 responses to “My Medical Record Number Or My Email?

  1. This is where a one patient / one record strategy would help. The patient would own the medical record and provide access to each healthcare provider. The record would be stored in the cloud and healthcare providers would pay a subscription fee to use the service. The patient would control access.

  2. I absolutely agree that there should be a single source of truth for each patient’s medical information. I don’t think an email address comes close to meeting the need: I am webmaster for an alum group of about 750, and I can tell you that one of my biggest headaches is how often they change email addresses.

    I’d prefer to see each patient have/own/manage their own unique EHR and then design the technology so that the patient manages who has access.

    Peter Elias

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