Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ford Produces an Electronic Health Record for Cars

Car owners can now get a text message of their car’s health. Why can’t we get something similar for ourselves?

The Ford Motor Company offers an option for car owners to develop and track a VHR – Vehicle Health Report for several of its models. The data links to a website, http://www.syncmyride.com/ using the customer’s Bluetooth-paired and connected mobile phone.

A comprehensive report is generated from the vehicle data that includes system information and uses diagnostic software to generate recommended actions for any vehicle warning indicators, open recalls, scheduled maintenance, and unserviced maintenance and wear items from previous dealer visits.

Users can select to receive a text message or e-mail when their report is ready. They can print the report, e-mail it to others or, in one click, be at their preferred dealer’s Web site with their health report information waiting to schedule service online. Depending on the user’s preference settings, SYNC can also deliver a text message alert to the user’s cell phone if a severe issue exists with one of the SYNC-monitored systems.

A sample VHR is available at http://www.syncmyride.com/Own/Modules/VHR/vhr_pdf_sample.pdf.

Here is the bottom line:

  1. We now have access to better, faster and more consumer-firendly information including automated diagnostics for our car than for ourselves.
  2. Most of the current HIT hullabaloo focuses on agreeing on a simple electronic health record that is still primarily intended for use by a health professional, that is mostly only for static data and without any built-in capabilities for decision-support diagnostics.
  3. Electronic medical record? Electronic health record? Personal health record? We can’t even agree on a name.

Efforts to move forward have been stopped in their tracks with statements such as: "you don't understand how complicated this is" or "we need to make sure privacy is completely protected" or “we need to make sure it is compatible with every other system” or "we need to investigate the ownership of the medical data." Many say an electronic health record can't be done without millions of government dollars and years of work.

Yet somehow Ford, the company that almost went out of existence last year, came up with a solution!

Of course, this is not the first time the problems of developing an interoperable, consumer-friendly and secure record were overcome. Years ago the financial industry linked together worldwide interbank networks, which are the magic behind ATMs. They are interoperable, work consistently with a very high level of privacy and security and developed with the consumer in mind.

Finally, it is interesting to point out that the ATM networks and now VHRs were implemented without years of government investigation, research and incentives.

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