Digital Health

Oracle Announces Plans for a Unified National Health Record

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Fresh off the close of its $28.3B acquisition of Cerner, Oracle hosted a virtual event to outline its healthcare roadmap, which ended up being more ambitious than most analysts expected after the company announced plans to build a “unified national health records database.”

Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison said that the national database aims to replace the hospital-centric approach of current EHRs with a more patient-centric model, pulling data from thousands of separate hospital databases to create a unified view of patient health.

  • The goal of the database is to ensure that providers have access to a patient’s up-to-date medical data regardless of their location or past points of care. It will also incorporate real-time updates from provider EHRs to let public health officials monitor trends as they unfold.
  • Ellison stressed that data privacy will be a top priority for the buildout. Providers will only be able to access identifiable information with patient authorization, while other researchers and public health officials will be limited to a de-identified view.

While a unified patient record looks like a worthwhile pursuit on the surface, the health IT community was quick to express skepticism towards Oracle’s announcement, citing concerns over everything from data security to a complicated regulatory landscape.

  • Successfully building the database would also presumably involve cooperation from Cerner’s EHR competitors, but details were vague on its strategy to accomplish this. Epic’s Cosmos solution houses over 122M patient records and could easily be viewed as a competing product, which makes information sharing seem like an uphill battle.
  • Oracle’s presentation was light on information regarding the database’s timeline, cost, and outside access, but Ellison did acknowledge that it’s a “lofty vision” that will likely take a while to execute.

The Takeaway

Establishing a unified national health record has the potential to be a gold mine for Oracle, which mentioned the data’s ability to greatly accelerate life science research and new product development. That said, having the nation’s health data consolidated in a single database operated by a public company is understandably raising some concern, and Oracle has a long road ahead to gain the trust of both the patients it intends to serve and the competitors that will need to cooperate to make its vision a reality.

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