Electronic medical records — required by Obamacare — are costing doctors time while taking them away from their patients.

Finding out what’s in it: Electronic medical records — required by Obamacare — are costing doctors time while taking them away from their patients.

Probably the biggest problem with electronic records is simply that it requires the physician to input all notes and orders, rather than dictate them. As a result, as my bride puts it, “they’ve taken the highest paid person in the department and turned him/her into a data entry clerk”. On average, she and her colleagues spend more time per patient wading through drop-down menus, clicking boxes and filling in required but utterly irrelevant information than they do at the bedside, actually treating the patient. In short, it’s her experience that they see fewer patients per shift than they did previously, and spend less time with each one, now that they are required to sit down at a computer after seeing each patient and jumping through hoops to place orders instead of, as previously, simply telling the nurse what is needed and then moving on to the next patient. [emphasis mine]

Have you noticed in your recent visits to the doctor how the doctor seems to be spending his entire visit with you staring at his laptop, typing continuously as you talked? I have. Say goodbye to simplicity in the medical field. The future shall be complex bureaucracy and less medical treatment.

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7 comments

  • D. K. Williams

    Yes, I noted DLS (Doctor Laptop Syndrome) a couple of years ago. Obamacare will just make it worse.

  • Don’t know what y’all will think of this, but I wrote-up a description of what it would look like to design a medical information system where computers are used to the maximum extent currently feasible. This means computers not being used as information storage and retrieval devices but full participants in the patient’s care.

    http://dougplata.com/ideas/HealthCareIT.doc

  • Oh, and let’s not forget the nurses. On the floors, they clearly are spending more time typing than nursing.

  • wodun

    Another aspect is that doctors now have to code everything. So every issue you talk to your doctor about has a separate code. Each code has its own charge and insurance reimbursement.

  • D. K. Williams

    Obamacare has a fix for that. You won’t be allowed to discuss “new” problems with your doc unless you schedule another appointment. Of course, that adds another layer of costs and inefficiencies. Nevermind.

  • Pzatchok

    I can see a way out of some of this. But as always it will take a bit of technology to work.

    Doctors are going to have to ware a voice activated voice recognition data entry system.
    Basically as the doctor makes their rounds they have a head set on and as they get to each patient they say the patients name and bed number.
    The whole conversation between the two is recorded and after the doctor can make changes to the patients record by voice only.
    If the doctor wants to give instructions to the nurse he just adds them to the nurses instruction area. The same with any med changes or tests to be done.

    Further details will have to be eventually worked out but I can not see a faster way for the the doctor to keep records updated.
    Maybe a data entry person can go over the whole thing during the day at almost the same time to clarify some things the computer got wrong or to clarify things with the doctor/nurse/staff later. Enter the correct US government codes and such.

  • If your doctor doesn’t accept insurance (like mine), all of these problems go away. Yes, you’re more money out-of-pocket, but when the price of medical services are more-or-less governed by market forces, those services cost a whole let less than you might think.

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