Oracle said it believes it can fix one of the largest tech problems in healthcare: patient records, just days after finalizing a $28 billion agreement to acquire Cerner, an electronic health records business.
During a news conference, Larry Ellison, Oracle board chairman and chief technology officer, stated that the combined firms will develop a national health records database that will pull data from thousands of institutions. Patients’ information would be kept private until they gave their permission to disseminate it. “We’re constructing a system in which all American citizens’ health records reside not only at the hospital level but also in a unified national health records database,” Ellison explained.
According to Ellison, who highlighted the well-known problems with the US’s healthcare data infrastructure, patient information is compartmentalized between numerous institutions. This makes it difficult for doctors to get information on their patients while they are being treated at other facilities. It also makes it difficult for research teams to perform large-scale studies since they are limited to the patient data available at the location where they operate, making it impossible to evaluate whether their findings apply to patients at other health centres.
Despite Ellison’s lofty aspirations, Oracle will undoubtedly have an uphill battle in bringing his vision to fruition. Following the announcement, health IT specialists expressed their concern on Twitter. Health-tech experts and the federal government have spent years, if not decades, attempting to make it easier for health records kept at various institutions to communicate with one another.
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