It seems like there’s been news after news of bad, certified, EHR implementations and experiences lately. Is this what Meaningful Use was supposed to be about? It’s as if the chickens have come home to roost.
In her post (http://getbetterhealth.com/more-unintended-consequences-of-digital-data-how-an-emr-gave-my-patient-syphilis/2013.08.22), Dr. Val Jones speaks about her experiences as a locum tenens and working at various different hospitals, with most of them with seemingly horrendous EHR implementations. One of her examples is when a hospital has to use medical transcriptionists in India to input data back into the EHR and physicians having to proofread them. The other is an example of a hospital IT department taking up whole wing of a hospital that manages the EHR to keep it from crashing daily (!!!) and sending frequent public announcements to warn staff of a pending crash (!!!!!!). Sounds like a skit straight out of Monty Python.
In a different article, Sutter Health in California had a EHR blackout when their Epic system went down in “epic” fashion, rendering it useless for nearly 8 hours in some facilities. (http://ehrintelligence.com/2013/08/28/sutter-clinicians-deal-with-unplanned-downtime-with-epic-ehr/).
And more data for ransom news…physicians at Milwaukie Health Services in Wisconsin were unable to access their patient data when their contract with their EHR vendor ended. And to top it off, this vendor requested $300,000 from them to get their data back. (http://www.jsonline.com/business/community-health-center-battles-for-patients-records-b9957634z1-216291331.html)
But seriously, this is crazy stuff when there is already fairly good “mission-critical” setups in the non-medical world (ie financial, consumer goods transactions). What is going on here? Is health IT really that incompetent?
I get why physicians want to go back to the good old days of paper and pens and trash the digital data. The amount of money spent by our tax dollars to fund these expensive and out-dated (and possibly unsafe) EHR’s to medical professionals should anger both patients and physicians. And to whose benefit?
The truth is, digital data is going the be the future. We are in the age of smartphones, tablets, and the Internet. Technology in every sector of our lives is advancing exponentially and it isn’t going to stop. Medicine is already far behind the curve on this one and it needs to catch up. But the critical point, that I’ve made before, is who should be in charge of the data? Who should have the absolute say in the way data should be entered so that we get quality data that helps our patients, and not the pockets of administrators, insurance companies, and EHR vendors? Physicians had been effectively left out of the loop when it comes to EHR design and safety considerations., and now we see the result of these costly decisions. If we (patients and physicians) tell our Congress to take the toxic financial incentives away and allow physicians to embrace digital in an organic and non-punitive fashion, we can hopefully make that transition without leaving casualties such as the examples I’ve highlighted above.
Don’t forget…please spread the word about my Indiegogo campaign at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nosh-chartingsystem-a-new-open-source-medical-record. Let’s make a start to overthrow the era of bad EHR’s. It starts here and now.