Here’s another Electronic Medical Records story from deep in the heart of “not for profit” hospitaldom. A local hospital in a continuing effort to not make a profit has rigged their EMR system so that a physician can’t “exit” the system without ordering a nutrition consultation. Doesn’t matter whether the patient needs this or not. Doesn’t matter whether the physician wants to order it or not. These nutrition consultations are happening because otherwise every physician working at this hospital would not be able to do move along to the next task or next patient. Trapped. Knowing that unlike their hired hospital (ist) guns, the private practice doctors wouldn’t order unnecessary nutrition consultations, a trick was needed. Examples of shenanigans like this point to the big hospitals as second only to Uncle Sam as generators of high-priced health care. The subsidization of EMR has led to scams like unneeded nutrition consults. This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the increased costs and outrageous inefficiencies these EMR systems have introduced. Who benefited from EMR? The computer and software companies that peddled their product, all in the name of patient safety and continuity of care. They sold more of these than they would have otherwise because Uncle Sam made it mandatory and paid for about half of it. Think any money changed hands on this deal? Still think the Unaffordable Care Act is about improving the delivery of health care in this country? Think the “government” will use the confidential patient information in hospital EMR’s for our own good?
G. Keith Smith, M.D.