Health Data Management Interview with Robert Rowley, MD, Flow Health Co-Founder & Chief Medical Officer

Flow Health’s co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Robert Rowley recently gave an extended interview about our platform The interview, published in Information Management and Health Data Management, is titled: Giving Patients Ownership of their Clinical Data. We feel pretty strongly about patients’ control of their health data, and patient control stands at the heart of our approach to creating a universal patient data layer. Here are some excerpts from Dr. Rowley’s interview, highlighting the importance of a patient-centric data model in ensuring completeness of data and access to information when and where needed.

Bob RowleyFlow Health is a platform, a patient-centered data structure for gathering all information about a patient – having it be patient-centered, rather than institution centered.

It can pull in data from payers, from EHRs, from hospitals, from patient entrance sources, from check-ins, from all the different channels that can feed that platform. The patient … can grant permission to its access, and it’s something that I believe will be the foundation for the next generation of health IT.

I believe we will move away from the giant one-size-fits-all enterprise solutions that are institution-centric, and which we all know and hate, and [which] will be replaced by a whole new era or stage of health IT that can be characterized as a collection of small apps.

Just like with your smartphone, if your data is in the cloud, you choose the apps that make the most sense to you . . . [that] interact with . . . external data. Since there are so many different settings of care it’s very difficult for anyone to do a good job for every single facet of care, so my belief is that there will be the emergence of focused apps around the workflows of particular kinds of settings, and apps that do things like population health surveys and other ways of extracting data from the data platform once it’s there. That’s the future that we’re going towards.

Most of the health data now has been built around institutions – institution-centered data, and that results in the data silos. . . .  But it’s still not universal data. It’s only as good as the hubs of the connectors. The data is still institution-centric.

When you build a data layer that has the patient at the center it implies several things. It implies that you have to do a really good job of unique patient identification, so that you can attach not just the EHR data, but claims data, and other sources of data – hospital notifications, ADT notices that the patient was in the emergency room, or that the patient was just discharged from the hospital; those kinds of things.

When they all come together into one central place, you can populate a very rich longitudinal record around the patient. . . .

Based on the sources of data you can create a graph around the patient of who is taking care of them and who has permission to see them. You can also have patient-facing apps that say, “This is who you receive care from because you’ve seen them in the office, we have EHR data or have received bills from them for you.” You can edit that, and say, “No I’m not seeing that person anymore” or, “Yes, but there are people I’m seeing that you don’t have on here.” The patient is at the center of granting permission, which really addresses much of the problem that we have in connecting different hubs of data together. . . .

[Q]: We read that many physicians complain that they don’t have a complete patient record at their disposal and they’re very frustrated. Why [is that] so?

That is the center of the reason why we have something like Flow Health. That is exactly true. Physicians are doing what they can with the information that they have but the information that they have is an incomplete picture. . . .  If you don’t have other sources of data to supplement what you put in, you will have a pretty incomplete picture.

At Flow Health, we have three apps that give [multiple] ways of populating the patient data layer as well as demonstrating to the app developer community what’s possible.

The Flow Health apps also support secure, personalized communications with patients to help manage care efficiently and effectively, which is of critical importance in what is increasingly a value-based payment environment.

See the full interview.

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