The benefits that come with converting manual medical record keeping to a national computerized system are obvious. The switch will help avoid redundant testing. It will screen automatically for drug interactions. Communication will be improved because people won’t have to interpret the chicken-scratch penmanship used by doctors. And perhaps most importantly, the new system will be able to gather huge amounts of research albeit government sponsored research, but research nonetheless. This information could help stifle the next great plague or super-virus or pandemic or any other Hollywood blockbuster scare script. But what will happen when the new computerized research turns up a treatment that works a little better but costs a lot more? Will the government-sponsored researchers tell the doctors? What happens to the patient whose particular circumstances argue for a different treatment from what the computer and bureaucrats recommend? These are the questions being asked by Scott Haig, M.D. Haig is an assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons who recently wrote an article titled Wrong Prescription for Time Magazine.
Haig goes on to ask: “When, for instance, does a urinary-tract infection become a pyelonephritis (an infection involving the kidneys and ureters)? There’s no clear-cut answer. A computer might remind the doctor that the hospital stands to make many thousands more if he simply clicks on pyelonephritis, the more serious condition.”
You have to ask yourself, which corporations are selling this new concept to the consuming public? Well, the companies that possess the technology to make the change happen are certainly in the mix. Although it should be noted, software vendors looking to offer a condensed, basic EMR to accommodate a potentially large portion of the market, well…they don’t know CCHIT (Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology). CCHIT will basically limit small software vendors and promote opportunity for big software vendors. To become CCHIT certified vendors must pay $29,000 for the initial review and $6,000 in annual maintenance fees over the three-year certification. Those fees, however, pale in comparison to the cost of developing the CCHIT required product capabilities. The cost of developing some features could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, depending on the effectiveness of the vendor’s development team. (Don Fornes, www.softwareadvice.com/articles/medical)
Large hospitals and medical practices hoping to improve billing and control internal costs are very interested in putting into action the EMR concept. But ultimately it is the insurance companies that stand to gain the most from this little rule change to the game. As Haig wrote: “EMR can greatly increase insurance-company denials of the treatments doctors want. Might this eliminate unnecessary testing? Sure. But who determines what is necessary? When a white-blood-cell count isn’t high enough to “justify” hospitalization for IV antibiotics, the physician whose judgment says “this patient is sick and belongs in the hospital” is told his services, as well as the hospitalization, will not be paid for. So the doctor has two choices: wait for the patient to get sick enough to justify the treatment plan or join the game – and lie about how sick the patient is. It’s just a matter of clicking a different item on a pull-down menu.”
Modifications to the healthcare system are a necessity. It seems EMR’s are a good solution for the future but they are not the only missing piece left in the unfinished puzzle. Among the issues of quality, affordability, and a person’s right to treatment comes three additional factors associated with anything in the realm of profitability: corruption, control, and complacency. Corruption is inevitable. Corruption is like Kobe Bryant…you can’t stop it you can only hope to contain it. With the implementation of EMR’s insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies will gain more control and capitalize on public complacency.
Before legislation gets passed and you are forced to get with the program or get left behind, there are other avenues that you can pursue to maintain some control and forfeit complacency. Google Health, for example, is one way to create and maintain your EMR. But what if you are one of the thousands who feel Google and the Obama administration are too closely related? Perhaps an EMR company like MIICOE (My Information In Case Of Emergency) is a healthy alternative for you. MIICOE is owned and operated out of the city of Centennial, Colorado and can be reached by calling (720) 524-4471 or by visiting www.miicoe.com.
|For the Individual, MIICOE provides:||For the Health Care Professional, MIICOE provides:|
|*Electronic Medical Record
** WHEN YOU TRAVEL, MIICOE COMES WITH YOU VIA YOUR MEMBERSHIP CARD, TO ENSURE THAT YOUR EMR IS ALWAYS THERE, READY IN CASE OF EMERGENCY.
Looking ahead at the problem with purchasing and maintaining an EMR right now, your doctor may only accept CCHIT approved EMR’s down the road. And judging by their past discretions, insurance companies will probably write into their policies that certified EMR’s are the only one’s that will be covered. Certifications are designed to insure quality based upon a given set of standards. Certifications are obviously good things, except when their attainability is achieved through an inflated purchase price rather than product accountability. At the risk of overdoing the play on words, I would venture to say that in the near future insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and all other companies that make their money on human sickness will be or already are full of CCHIT.