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Oracle plans US database for electronic health records

Based in the Big Red cloud, the system will suck up records from hospitals and physicians, says CTO Larry Ellison

Oracle is planning to build a national database of individuals' health records for the whole United States following its $28.3 billion acquisition of electronic health records specialist Cerner.

In a presentation, CTO and founder Larry Ellison said electronic health records for individual patients were stored by hospitals and physicians, and not replicated or shared between providers.

"We're going to solve this problem by putting a unified national health records database on top of all of these thousands of separate hospital databases," Ellison said.

"Together, Cerner and Oracle have all the technology required to build a revolutionary new health management information system in the cloud. That system will deliver much better information to healthcare professionals. Better information will fundamentally transform healthcare."

Ellison argued that the fragmentation of electronic health records "causes tremendous problems" in the US healthcare system.

He said patients getting sick or injured outside their hometown faced the prospect of emergency clinical teams treating them without access to health records.

"They cannot get access. They don't know what your blood type is. They don't know what your allergies are. They don't know if you have a metallic stent in your heart. They don't know anything about you, in terms of your health records," he said.

The lack of a central database also caused problems for health management and policy, he said.

"If you're a public health official, and you want to find out how many people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, you can't get that data. That data is literally in thousands of separate databases. You'd have to go into every single database… and count how many people were hospitalized at that hospital and then add them all up."

However, those analyzing health trends would not be able to access data in the national health database as records would be anonymized, he said.

"There's only one person in the world who can give doctors access to your health records, and that's you. You hold the key to all of your health records and the national EHR database."

Oracle would also build systems to improve personnel and financial management in US healthcare, he said. The company was working on a system to help mitigate the risk in the healthcare supply chain that proposes using blockchain-based technologies to stop counterfeit drugs.

Ellison did not say who would pay for its national electronic health records database, or when physicians would begin to start using it. We have asked Oracle for further details. ®

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