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Francine Hardaway: Health Records

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There were a lot of offline responses to my post on electronic health records, all from patients who were desperate to have their records somewhere they could see them. For these people, I recommend storing your own records on Passport MD or Revolution Health. At least if your records, insofar as you have them, are stored somewhere, you can access them yourself. The problem is, you have to ask for copies of all your labs and superbills and take the time to scan them and upload them. That’s a drag, unless you are very dedicated, very technical, or have a large staff.

It would be nice if the doctors did this for us. But the one reply I got from a doctor tells us why doctors are so unwilling to automate.

Interestingly enough, the doctor is a woman who left a large well-known ortho practice to go off on her own. She left so that she could be a better, more caring doctor and spend more time with patients. The orthopedic practice had been automated, so this physician, Dr. W., decided to select the same electronic health record as her former employer. She felt that having an electronic practice would help her be more efficient with the paperwork and spend more time actually practicing good medicine and talking to patients.

What she found, now that she is one doctor with a single nurse and a single front office person, is that she uses more paper than ever! The EMR product she chose is one that doesn’t allow faxes to be imported directly into the system. And everything in health care still arrives at the doctor by fax. She has to print out every fax to sign off on it, and then scan it back in. This drives her crazy.

The larger practice probably didn’t care about this, because it had staff whose job it was to print out all the faxes, give them to the doctors to sign, and then scan them into the patient record. That was a bad EMR product, but Dr. W never had to experience it in the larger practice. Now she’s turned against electronic records, thinking they are too clumsy.

Ugh. If someone young, forward-looking and anxious to provide good care is this turned off, how do the older docs who don’t feel comfortable with technology feel? Well, as one doctor I know has said,” we don’t want the patients to see too much of their information. They get all excited over nothing.”

Over nothing? It’s my LIFE!