un-Health IT

I went in to get a blood test today. I’m a pretty healthy guy all told (when I had my mustering-out physical, the doctor thought part of my records must be missing, my career health record folder was so slim), and I’m usually only in for an annual physical. That’s what this was in preparation for.

Since my last visit, actually since last month, the clinic had gone to a new IT system — new provider, cloud based, the usual. What was irksome was that none of my medical insurance data had come across (I didn’t think to ask about my actual records), so they had to re-enter all of the data from my employer’s plan, my Medicare, and my Tricare coverage. Produce the cards. Scan them in. Re-enter things like emergency contact number. Wait for the servers, somewhere out in ‘the cloud’, to respond.

This is stupid. This is wasteful. This borders on criminal. Any company who cannot engineer a simple data transfer from one system to another shouldn’t be in business, and they certainly shouldn’t be in the health IT business. I didn’t think to ask what of my actual health records didn’t come over. Do they still know what drugs I am allergic to, or will they find out through trial and error?

I have said it before, and I’ll undoubtedly say it again. I lived my whole life, man and boy, in the military health care system. It worked, and it worked well. It is a government-run single payer system. Was it perfect? No. But, I’d take it in a heartbeat over the crapped up system we have today.


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4 Responses to “un-Health IT”

  1. Kurt Kremer Says:

    I used to work for one of the major providers of clinic-based EMR. The typical company that does this usually writes separate import tools to transfer records, insurance info, etc., from one system to another. Clinic systems (like many small businesses) are notoriously hodge podge (as is the average clinical office staffer–which is the office manager’s or doctor’s fault). I’m not surprised to hear that this happened. It’s possible that the doctor went cheap and didn’t purchase any import package or services or the service he is using doesn’t support it. It also sounds like the office staff was disorganized around transferring the data, even if they had to do that by hand. Or that laws or liability concerns prevented them from doing that manually until you showed up (I vote for disorganization.)

    Don’t get me started on cloud-based services and their inefficiencies–businesses (like my employer) like them because they’re cheap and transfer many of the IT maintenance issues out of house.

    While there are companies out there trying to set (or be) the standard for EMR and related data, it’s still “a ways off” and be best we can hope for is better technology for transferring data between them. The dozens of types of data in and attached to a patient record. It’s a freakin’ mess, still. And it means that data will be lost, disappear, not make it from one system to another, etc., without significant cost.

    • FoundOnWeb Says:

      What really irritated me is that this isn’t some country doctor clinic. this is Rockwood — a major health provider in the Spokane area, with several outlying, intranetted, clinics like ours, and ours is here I’m sure because they have the student health contract with EWU. They have no excuse.

      And it wasn’t like they brought the stuff over and were contact-verifying. They didn’t have the records, or they had bad records. The first thing the receptionist said when she pulled up my records for check-in was “you have Blue Cross, right?”

  2. Kurt Kremer Says:

    At my former job, we dealt only with clinics–either chains or single provider. Many of these were fairly sophisticated providers but that never stopped there staff practices or their infrastructure from being a mess. I’m hardly defending them, just not surprised at the lack of competency even at that level.

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