During a live presentation to discuss his company’s biggest-ever acquisition this past week, Oracle co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Larry Ellison offered a bold vision for how Cerner’s technologies will be integrated into the database giant – and leveraged for new innovations toward patient outcomes and population health.
One of the biggest promises he made was a new nationwide architecture to solve longstanding interoperability challenges and enable real-time access to data for an array of healthcare stakeholders: a national EHR database.
“Today’s health management systems – Cerner, Epic, Allscripts – are all hospital-centric, not patient-centric,” said Ellison in the June 10 talk on the “Future of Healthcare. (Watch it here.)
With every hospital buying and operating its own information system, patient EHR data is fragmented everywhere, he said.
Each hospital has its own health record database, and “there are thousands of them throughout the United States,” said Ellison. “Your data is scattered among a dozen or two dozen separate databases, one for every provider you’ve ever visited.”
This fragmentation “causes tremendous problems,” he said, with doctors in an emergency unable to retrieve critical information from disparate EHR systems and public health officials – as shown during the COVID-19 pandemic – unable to glean an accurate picture of where care resources are being used.
“We’re going to solve this problem by putting a unified national health record database on top of all of these thousands of separate hospital databases,” said Ellison.
“We’re building a system where all American citizens’ health records not only exist at a hospital level, but they’re also in a national unified health record database.”
Of course, these days, the concept of national unified anything is a bit challenging, to say the least. And efforts to bring some order and uniformity to patient data and make accurate and relevant information easier to find have faced resistance. And the talk was light on details about the nuts and bolts of how EHRs from non-Oracle vendors would fit under this umbrella. But Ellison was enthusiastic about the prospects of such a venture.
In this national EHR database, he pledged, ED physicians will be able to quickly gain access to a patient’s electronic records and public health officials will be able see anonymized national health data.
This data would be continually uploaded, and “up-to-the-second” accurate, said Ellison, all while maintaining robust privacy protections.
“There’s only one person in the world who can give doctors access to your health records, and that’s you,” he said. “You hold the key to all of your health records in the national EHR database.”
All the health records stored in the database are anonymized,” he explained. “Nobody knows who they belong to until you supply the key. So, there is absolute data privacy.”
This new approach to data management “will deliver much better information to healthcare professionals,” Ellison promised. “It will help doctors deliver better patient outcomes. And it will help public health officials improve public health policy and lower overall costs. That is now our primary mission here at Oracle.”