The next day, much to my surprise, I was taken to the hospital and admitted to the acute medical unit with a platelet count of one (the normal range is 150 to 300). My doctors struggled to piece together my record and quizzed me on my medical history in order to diagnose me.
Why didn’t they have access to my history of epilepsy? Because those episodes took place at a different hospital. Why didn’t they know about my recent bout of episcleritis? Because those encounters had been treated at a private facility. Why didn’t they have the platelet counts from three related blood tests from last year? Because those had taken place at a blood clinic that happened to be in a different county. Even my patient portal (available on my phone because I am a bit of a geek) turned out to contain incomplete data, requiring my doctor to enter into a lengthy email exchange with my general practitioner in order to manually retrieve the relevant history.
After several hours, I was diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune condition that attacks platelets and prevents blood from clotting. Now, every few days I make a one-hour round trip (plus 30 minutes searching for parking) to my nearest hospital for bloodwork — even though my local general practitioner can draw my blood more conveniently. Why? Because their IT systems aren’t connected, so it’s the only way to be sure that my doctor will see the test results the same day.
Overnight, I went from thinking about health care…