EHR sent this physician back to efficiency of handwritten records

Regarding “EHRs must be made irresistible, but for now are clearly inadequate” (Letters, May 26): I am one of those doctors mentioned by letter writer Christine A. Sinsky, MD, of Dubuque, Iowa, who has the staff reprint much of the medical record for each visit. Then each day, I have my staff scan my handwritten record back into the computer.
I was so glad that Dr. Sinsky has put my feelings into print that one screen at a time, the electronic health records disrupt thought flow and inhibit data synthesizing. The EHR was implemented into this large ophthalmology practice in 2005, and I gave it a year to find out how much it slowed me down, which was about 50%.

Patient Privacy at Issue in Vermont’s Bid for Electronic Health Records

When you go to a new doctor, you probably don’t pay much attention to the document you are required to read and sign that discloses how information about your condition and treatment is shared with others. And even if you did study the form, called a “Notice of Privacy Practices,” you might still have no idea who has access to your medical records and how their contents can be used.

Don’t feel bad. Despite committing millions of dollars over the past three years to set up an electronic “health information exchange” in Vermont, state policymakers are far from understanding how to control the spread of sensitive patient information in the digital age.

In an effort to figure it out, an advisory group of attorneys, consumer advocates and health professionals has begun meeting to discuss how information should be shared electronically among physicians and insurers. Burlington attorney Anne Cramer, a member of the group, said the discussions are a response to concerns by the American Civil Liberties Union and other consumer groups that the state’s long-range plan for the exchange lacks detailed privacy provisions.

EHRs must be made irresistible, but for now are clearly inadequate

Regarding “Selling the bitter EMR pill” (AMNews, April 7): The article, in essence, asks how do we convince the recalcitrant physician to swallow the bitter pill of an electronic health record. The implication is that when it comes to slow adoption of health information technology, the doctor is the problem.

We need to change the focus. The question should not be how to inveigle physicians to use insufficient technology, but rather how to improve the technology and the human structures around that technology, to make its adoption irresistible. The question should not be why is the ICU doctor struggling but rather why is the EHR failing the ICU physician.

Doctor Resigns Over Patient Data Breach

The well-intended gift of a used computer by a Jacksonville physician may have put the personal medical information of 1,900 patients at risk, University of Florida privacy officials reported Monday.
Dr. Francis D. Ong, a UF assistant professor of plastic surgery at the College of Medicine’s Jacksonville campus, resigned his position Monday.

IT adviser wants docs in control of data contracts

An information technology consultant to physician groups has a prescription for doctors confronted by IT system vendors wanting to own, control and sell their patients’ data.
Physicians should take control of the contracting process themselves and put limits on how the data can be used to protect both the physician-patient bond of trust and the financial interests of the medical group, said Thomas Roovers, founder and chief executive officer of T.G. Roovers & Associates, Wausau, Wis.

Selling the bitter EMR pill (HIMSS meeting)

A few days after the University of California Medical Center in Irvine went live with its new electronic medical record system, a letter arrived on the desk of the hospital administrator.

“I think the person who chose the [EMR] system should be shot first and then fired,” the note read. Pamela Griffith, RN, director of applications for the UC Medical Center, displayed the note at the annual conference of the Health Information and Management Systems Society in Orlando, Fla., in late February, where a lot of discussion focused on how to get physicians to use technology.

Practice Fusion expands, shows signs of rapid growth

Practice Fusion, a company that provides free online electronic health records to physicians, announced last week it will partner with Physician Services, Inc. (PSI) of California and Azalea Health Innovations, Inc. of Georgia to expand the types of services available to its clients.

According to Ryan Howard, CEO of the San Francisco-based Practice Fusion, the company is on target to be one of the fastest growing electronic medical record (EMR) vendors in the country, with close to 100 physicians signed up since the launch of the service two months ago.

Ryan attributes the growth to a special “Live in Five” process, which allows new clients to be provisioned, logged on and charting within five minutes.

“We have changed the experience of EMR selection and made the decision process and start-up much easier, and as a result we are becoming the de facto standard for small to medium sized physician practices,” Howard said. Physicians benefit through low total cost of adoption, a simplified start up process and on-demand architecture that makes the whole process low-risk, he added.

{This story illustrates the most common way electronic health records systems make money: by stealing and selling YOUR data. Ryan Howard, the CEO of Practice Fusion, is quoted as saying, ”Every healthcare vendor is selling data. Everyone has this data, but we’ll have more of it and it will be real-time and aggregated.” Practice Fusion subsidizes its free EMRs by selling de-identified data to insurance groups, clinical researchers and pharmaceutical companies and by placing medically relevant ads within the EMRs, Howard said. Howard clearly cares nothing for consumers’ rights to privacy. Although the information sold is supposedly “de-identifed”, it is very easy to re-identify health data, endangering consumers’ future opportunities for jobs, credit, and insurance. What is really disturbing is that the doctors who use the cheap ($50/month) Practice Fusion software apparently do not realize they too are violating their patients’ privacy rights under strong state law, common law, tort law, and medical ethics. Physicians are required to obtain informed consent before disclosing patient health information. Do these doctors ask their patients’ consent before Practice Fusion data mines and sells their health data? It seems unlikely. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

Study Finds Gaps Between Doctors’ Standards and Actions

Physicians Think They Should Report Errors and Incompetence — but Say They Often Do Not

Physicians are among the most trusted professionals in America, but a new survey shows that when it comes to dealing with colleagues’ mistakes or incompetence, many doctors abandon the high standards they espouse.

The first-of-its-kind survey of more than 1,600 physicians, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that 45 percent said they did not always report an incompetent or impaired colleague to the appropriate authorities — even though 96 percent agreed that doctors should turn in such people.

Court: Patients can’t file federal privacy suits against doctors

Physicians still can get sued in state court. The plaintiff attorney says that’s not enough.
The first federal appeals court decision to affirm that patients cannot sue under HIPAA offers some relief for physicians. But with patients still able to bring privacy claims in state court, the ruling does little to alleviate doctors’ concerns about the possibility of lawsuits for confidentiality breaches.

Ohio clarifies doctor role in patient privacy

Doctors can defend patients’ privacy rights for them, and HIPAA doesn’t preempt a stricter state law, an Ohio appeals court decides.

Patient privilege belongs foremost to the patient. But what is a physician allowed to do to protect that privacy when he or she is whisked into a lawsuit by a court order for medical records?