Wherever I go in my travels as a locums physician, I assess the EMR (electronic medical records) systems. As I’ve written before, there are good and bad systems.  But one consistent them I see is this.  I find a place with a good, simple system.  (I’m using EMpower this week.)  The doctors and nurses like it.  I learned to use it in about 15 minutes and it produces a good record.

But reliably, the doctors and nurses who use good systems say this, with a sigh:  ‘It’s good and we like it.  But they’re replacing it because it doesn’t communicate with the computerized order entry,’ (or with the inpatient side, or with the billing company).  There’s no ‘patch,’ as it were.  ‘It’s too expensive to make the patch.’

So, the hospital will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, or the system millions, for a new, shiny EMR that doesn’t need ‘the patch.’

I believe that ‘the problem of the patch’ is a lie.  I believe that it’s a ruse, a subterfuge to take away systems that are simple and that allow for efficient patient care, and replace them with costly systems that are designed to make life easier for insurers and coders and simultaneously make oodles of money for those involved in the transaction and implementation.

I can talk to my wife on Face-time using my i-Phone.  I can scan documents and send them via the same phone.  I can teleconference on  my laptop across the country or world.  My computer and phone can do things unimaginable even 20 years ago.  Scientists are ‘beaming’ particles across space.  NASA is experimenting with a microwave drive that might propel spaceships to Mars in three weeks.

And nobody can make a patch so that systems communicate?  Nope.  I don’t believe it.

It’s peculiar that we as physicians were told to avoid any appearance of financial impropriety with drug companies…even pens would sully our pure souls.  But for administrations to adjust their records keeping to jack up charges on every single breath taken in the ER is simply good medicine.  How is that again? I’m confused.

Next time they tell you there’s ‘no patch,’ take it with a grain of salt.

Because it sounds as valid to me as that dog that ate all of that Percocet.

Edwin

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