Friday, May 29, 2015

Doctor Complaints about Electronic Health Records

In a May 28 Washington Post column, “Why Doctors Quit,” Charles Krauthammer, a psychiatrist turned critic, reports doctors’ main ObamaCare complaint centers on the use and abuse of electronic health records (EHRs).

While attending the 40th reunion of his Harvard Medical School class, Krauthammer could not help but notice his classmates’ constant harping about time and money wasted on EHRs. “The complaint,” observed Krauthammer, “ was not financial but vocational, an incessant interference with their work, a deep erosion of their autonomy and authority, a transformation from physician to ‘provider.’ “

The complaint devolved on EHRs, and a “never-ending attack on the profession from government, insurance companies, nad rules and regulations topped by electronic health records.

When President Obama was elected, he promised EHRs would save $77 billion by 2015. His adminitration threw $27 billion towards eliminating paper records and replacing them with digital records.

Instead, for doctors, the opposite has occurred. Paper records are still there. Overhead for EHR installment and maintenance has skyrocketed, and little if any money has been saved, all at the cost of time spent with patients. A study in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reports ER doctors spend 43% of their time entering clinical data and 28% of their time with patients. In physician office, productivity, i.e. time spent with patients, has dropped 25% to 30%, and a physician survey indicates practitioners spend an average of 48 minutes a day just entering clinical data. The result, aka Krauthammer? “Money squandered, patients neglected, good physicians demoralized.”

Krauthammer’s comments do not surprise me. Over the last 2 years, I have written over 40 Medinnovation blogs on the negative and dehumanizing impact of EHRs. EHRs may be documentation friendly but they are not doctor friendly. They are yet another example of bureaucratic arrogance at the expense of patients, doctors, and the national debt.

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