Electronic records – scrap “meaningful use” and demand easy sharing


Category : Medical Rants

Yesterday I had a great time talking with an intern who was my 3rd year student 2 years ago. His experiences during his internship influenced this question – why do electronic computer systems not share information?

I had no good answer.

Perhaps we worry about the NSA tapping into the records, but what would they do.

While working at the VA, we often took advantage of the common medical record. Having good records allows one to avoid unnecessary repeat testing. It allows us to do better medication reconciliation. It provides the most important thing that a new physician can have – historical documentation.

In the US we worry about privacy concerns. We have incredibly strict laws about medical records (compared to other countries). So I ask, how much money could we save with a common medical record. Yes, a common medical record that physicians could review. It would greatly help emergency care. I would make “doctor shopping” less costly. It would likely decrease opioid prescription abuse.

How important is medical record privacy? How many billions of dollars is it worth?

Some would argue that we should let the free market solve this problem. I love free market solutions, but in this situation we need a requirement that both inpatient and outpatient EMRs have a secure and easy sharing system. Vendors have no incentive to make this happen.

Physicians must start demanding easy sharing of medical information for our patients. Insurers should demand it. Actually I think patients should demand it.

Comments (6)

I couldn’t agree more. I work for a large community hospital affiliated with a large tertiary care center approximately 25 miles away. Patients from the ” mother ship” show up in our ER all the time and assume we have access to all their records stored at the Ivory tower and nothing could be farther from the truth. It is absolutely amazing that so much money has been spent on EMR and how amazingly non functional these systems function. I agree that HIPAA, The Joint Commision, and all the other regulatory agencies have contributed greatly to this mess in which we are stuck. The IT executives must be rolling on the floor laughing every day as they push the wheelbarrow loads of cash to the bank at our ( providers, patients, taxpayers) expense.

Whew should have proof read that last post .

The real issue here is money. The money to be made by vendors who push government mandates and then fills these mandates with proprietary systems. One vendor’s contract includes a clause that states they own the data and the customer is obligated to purchase updates based on the vendor’s schedule.

This link shows that the upfront cost is only a fraction of a systems total cost, it is like buying a baby elephant.


Steve Lucas

I spell Babel – E-H-R

Why wasn’t interoperability required for CCHIT certification under HITECH? Follow the money.

I agree with steve that the issure here is money. The technology is available to solve these problems but right now there is too much government and regulation. I think the solution to health IT will come from the free market.

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