Surgery Center of Oklahoma Blog

August 10, 2011

Electronic Medical Records

Filed under: Electronic Medical Records — surgerycenterok @ 1:51 am

This sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?  Have all of your medical information on a disk or a chip so that if you are in car wreck you will receive better care.  Have all of your information digitalized so that if you go to see a specialist they can look at your complete medical history and not miss a beat.  What could be wrong with this?  Doesn’t the digitalization of medical information benefit the patient?

If you have been following this blog you are either laughing or cursing by now.  The federal government is requiring everyone that takes federal money (Medicare/Medicaid) to convert to EMR or accept the punishment of a lower payment.  Why does the federal government care?  What possible benefit could this be to them?  Control?  Do you think?  Duh! That they want this is reason enough to resist!

Once medical information is digitalized it can be analyzed and categorized and, poof!, you’re a statistic!  Once the feds realize that 20% of federal dollars are spent on cancer care for instance, poof!, there’s a great way to save 20%!  You get the idea?  And all for our benefit.

What about patient confidentiality?  POOF!  GONE!  Stories about the theft of laptop computers containing raw patient information have been reported lately.  These patients’ data could be used to deny them care later or used for identity theft…you get the idea. Once the data is on a disk the patient’s medical information is not as secure as it is on a paper chart.

Could end of life euthanasia decisions be made using statistical analysis of this data?  Surely not!  Think again.  All of the national health care schemes have run into bankruptcy scenarios.  You think that with the government’s back against the wall they won’t tell a citizen that it is their patriotic duty to “take one for the team?”

We don’t utilize EMR at the Surgery Center of Oklahoma.  Partly due to patient confidentiality concerns.  Partly because every operating room I’ve ever been in that has computer capability results in a nurse with her back to the surgeon and patient, typing constantly.  Not good patient care, in my humble opinion.

Some physician offices utilize EMR for efficiency reasons.  I have no problem with this if they take confidentiality concerns seriously.  Once the data goes to the hospital computer system, all bets are off, though, I’m afraid.  The worst scenario?  Hospitals networking with physician offices so that they are integrated. Now the patient is an afterthought.  Confidentiality means nothing.  You should ask your physician if their EMR is integrated with the hospital they are working with/for.  If so, I would find another doctor.  You information is not safe.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.

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