Saturday, May 16, 2009

Electronic Health records and GPS Census Records

[Disturbing side-bar: my spell check in Microsoft Works still tries to change Obama to Osama]

Not too many years ago my liberal/progressive colleagues in the library profession (223:1 liberal to conservative--several of whom post here as "anonymous") were screaming about the dangers of RFID on Wal-Mart pallets, which the marketing giant uses to reduce inventory costs and speed delivery from warehouse to outlets. Of course then, it was a right wing, Nazi conspiracy caused by Karl Rove because President Bush was in office. And they were definitely right to worry. Look what Oba-Mart is settling for now. Electronic surveillance of everything in our lives.
    When President Obama won approval for his $787 billion stimulus package in February, large sections of the 407-page bill focused on a push for new technology that would not stimulate the economy for years.

    The inclusion of as much as $36.5 billion in spending to create a nationwide network of electronic health records fulfilled one of Obama's key campaign promises -- to launch the reform of America's costly health-care system. WaPo
One can only hope that these billions for a “network” of health records doesn’t work any better than what we’re all experiencing locally at our own doctor’s office. If this is any evidence, not one dollar will ever be saved. It's just a coup for the industry.

I stopped by to pick up a prescription at my doctor’s office because the “electronic transfer” of information between that office and the pharmacy I used hadn’t been able to manage the job in 3.5 days, and I was out (old methods of fax and phone aren't used anymore). Normally, I would have just told the receptionist what I needed, and my file (paper) would have been retrieved (human). No. I waited about 10 minutes as she struggled getting the right screens up, then worked from screen to screen, asking me questions I didn’t know, like date of my last appointment and address of the pharmacy. A line was forming behind me. When she finally found it, she said there was no record from the pharmacy requesting permission for a refill, but the doctor would decide.

That night we got a call from the doctor’s office that “it was ready,” i.e. the prescription script. My husband went to pick it up and waited about 15 minutes in line as the receptionist struggled with the screens of 2 or 3 people ahead of him. Fortunately, it was in a paper envelope with my name hand written on the outside. We can only hope and pray that the national “network” that Obama is forcing thousands of small offices to buy into (causing many to close their doors), doesn’t work any better than what you’ve all experienced at the local level as your doctor or clinic transitions.


Norma said...

I found this after I wrote my entry. Mad Dad at another blog ( commented: "Being a project manager at a clinic, implementing an electronic health record, I can state as facts: A) that the clinic is actively participating in a state-wise system to consolidate immunization records under the guise that Little Jimmy shouldn’t get poked twice, once from the clinic and once from the pediatrician. But realize what that means: every single person, and if they have/haven’t received a specific vaccine (recorded by mfr. and lot number). B) at least Indian Health Service, a part of Health and Human Services, recently released a spec. on an early symptom collection/reporting system (this records a specific set of diagnosis or chief complaints - these follow a national standard called ICD9 and are easily reported in large systems like IHS’ RPMS, basically the system developed by the VA). C) Now, we have every GPS location of every person. THAT will make the public health nurse’s job so much easier, especially in rural areas. Could this data be consolidated and cross referenced? You bet! Some of the biggest players and probably the lobbiest muscle behind Obama’s healthcare initiative are people like GE, Google, IBM, and other major EHR vendors (sick people represent a huge growth industry - our sickness is worth more than our wool). One of the first areas more fully standardized and integrated are demographic data (including a globally unique identifier - NextGen uses a 36 character ID called a GUID), and medications (eg, SureScripts - a big credit card like prescription clearinghouse in the sky)."

mdoneil said...

I simply refuse to participate in electronic medical records. I have a physician that uses the concierge practice model and paper records. I pick my labs, my pharmacy and my x-ray providers based on price. I pay cash, I have a high deductible policy so I submit my claims myself.

I don't want the some government contractor losing my medical records, my health is too important. They are sending stimulus checks to people decades dead. I don't want to be decades dead when they find my old EKGs or whatever my doctor wants now.

I will go to the doctor in Mexico if I have to, but I am not participating in electronic medical records.