A Need to Know: Adding DNA and Geomedicine Data to Patient Records


It takes a lot of patience to be a patient.

There are about 1.2 billion physician office visits annually in the United States, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The center, which has collected data on this subject for decades, also reports that patients wait an average of just “north” of 11 minutes to see a doctor or healthcare provider.

You will have to get out your calculators to discover that Americans spend about 25,000 years just waiting in doctor’s offices each year.

But please don’t quote that number to a friend who has just been to a hospital emergency room, because the wait to see a doctor is much longer there.

These are serious lost opportunity costs. If we care about what the nation’s real healthcare tab is, just add another $1.9 billion a year (minimum wage rates in the US in 2013) x (25,000 years).

So why do we have to wait so long in a doctor’s waiting room?

And why do we have to fill out a “Patient Interview Form” every time we see a doctor? It’s another example of lost opportunity costs for physicians and their patients. I have probably filled out the patient interview form no less than 20 to 30 times in my lifetime. You’ve probably had similar experiences. Did you ever wonder what actually happens to the data collected on these forms? Shouldn’t we as patients be asked to contribute our baseline information just once, and then simply update the data as needed?

Couldn’t we also use our valuable waiting room time to contribute some useful contextual environmental information into our brand new electronic medical record, rather than just reading … Next Page »

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Bill Davenhall has worked in health and human services since the early seventies. He has directed many initiatives involving the use of information systems in healthcare and human service delivery organizations, and is currently the senior health advisor for Esri, the Redlands, CA-based GIS software developer Follow @

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3 responses to “A Need to Know: Adding DNA and Geomedicine Data to Patient Records”

  1. Dan Munro says:

    First quote in my annual “Top Ten Healthcare Quotes for 2013” is this one:

    #1 – “When it comes to health, your zip code matters more than your genetic code.” Dr. Tony Iton – The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships 2013 [as tweeted by @taralohan here at #cehjf13]


  2. Robert B. says:

    I would love to see a geo spatial prescription analysis. How are treatments varied over a region. Do they over prescribe one type of antibiotic over another. How successful are treatments vrs region. This could be anonymized and logged in through a portal like bulletin board which patients would volunteer simple info symptoms, description, and diagnosis to a table which applies a zip code not direct location. Hospitals could be another field or just shown as a layer on the map. Then results could be queried by timestamp or location or table headers. I think they called it Google Health….til that went under