Why can’t I look up my service history?

I am in the waiting room at a Toyota dealership, getting service on my Prius. There is a loose panel underneath the car that’s making a noise. And while I am in, I thought I would catch up on the car’s routine maintenance.

The problem, however, is determining what has and hasn’t been done. I haven’t had this car serviced at this dealership before. I’m in a commuter marriage, I’ve been living in two cities, and I seem to travel all the time. So the car has been worked on at several dealerships in several cities. And of course, I have no clear memory of what I’ve gotten done when.

No problem. The car has a VIN number. Dealerships are independent enterprises, but Toyota has an international database that has all the service records from all the dealerships. The service manager and I are looking at the records in seconds and we quickly make a decision about the needed service.

This is interesting only because I can’t do this for my body. I have a congenital arrhythmia and a pacemaker. Like my car, my heart needs a lot of routine maintenance. I have to get care in two cities, but neither site can access the other’s records. There is also the occasional semi-emergency, when the cardiologists always regret that that they can’t read the trace data that are (they hope?) stored at the other clinic. I get pdfs of some of my records, but collecting these things in my Dropbox has been, shall we say, a less than world class solution.

The engineering and legal work required to make electronic health records interconnect is harder than the engineering required to connect Toyota dealerships. Nevertheless, it is seriously stupid that I can access complete service information on my car but not my heart.


For previous TIE writing — and complaints — about the disconnected state of electronic health records, see here, here, and here; and listen to podcasts available here.

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