So we are going electronic with health records (EMRS), but we need to keep them confidential. The idea is that if all the medical records were somehow available to the providers involved with a patients care, much progress would be made in the quality of care and perhaps the cost. Did it work? Well, no, not exactly. Billions of dollars were spent on the software side of EMR development and ultimately many different versions were made available. The first problem is that none of the systems in place currently communicate with the others, so centralized availability is impossible.
The second problem is the law relating to privacy and the manner in which it is now implemented. To comply with the law, here is a prime example:
A recent visit to the hospital outpatient department…
- Registration desk-hand over the requisition for the blood work.
- Clerk takes requisition to intake data entry person.
- Data entry person calls name for interview.
- Information is input relating to demographics and insurance. Copy machine and scanners are used to scan in drivers license and insurance card.
- The printer then begins to print. Some 12 individual sheets are printed, 3 of which required a signature (release of information, financial liability, etc.), and the rest related to Personal Health Information laws and Patients rights.
- 8 of the pages from the original 12, were then reprinted to accompany me to the laboratory.
So 20 pieces of paper later, a simple lab test was performed. So, presumably all of the documents are now in the patient chart as well as an electronic record.
This is efficiency? Layered with all the new red tape, the costs and waste have increased enormously.