Digital Medical Records have the Medical History Wrong for a Patient in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 13th, 2013

Week in Review

The keystone to Obamacare is digitizing medical records.  To make it easier for any health care professional to access a patient’s record no matter where they are.  Even if they’ve never met the patient before.  One set of records kept online for all to see.  No errors from duplicate copies.  No waiting for hardcopies to arrive.  It’s efficiency.  And accuracy.  Allowing great potential for cost cutting by automating the health care system to mass produce the delivery of health care services.

Patients come in and data-entry clerks encode them into the system.  As they move from station to station the next health care provider just has to pull up the work-order on the patient.  Do their part.  And ship the patient off to the next workstation.  Like an auto assembly plant.  Where they have economies of scale.  Keeping costs down.  This is what digitizing medical records will give us.  Well, that, and this (see Grandmother handcuffed and escorted from GP surgery by police after demanding to see medical notes by Amanda Williams posted 4/8/2013 on the Daily Mail).

A grandmother was handcuffed and led away from her doctor’s surgery by police after a row over her demand to see her medical notes.

Mary Kerswell, 67, asked for a copy of her GP records after she was called in for a urine test for a kidney condition she did not have.

When the mother of two was shown a brief summary of her medical history she was shocked to see that as well as being wrongly listed as having chronic kidney disease, it said she was a heavy smoker with Alzheimer’s.

The incorrect summary of her notes also said the healthy pensioner had undergone a hysterectomy and a double hip replacement.

Obviously there was a data input error somewhere along the way.  An error that no one caught because she was just a digital record in the system.  If there was a doctor-patient relationship like there still is in the United States (for awhile at least) her doctor would have caught that error.  Because he would have known the patient.  And because he would have known the patient he would have known the medical history in the digital medical record was wrong.  Because he treats a person.  Not just process a work-order in the system.

This is national health care.  Fewer health care providers taking care of more patients.  Where patients are just anonymous sick people with a work-order attached.  Allowing doctors to handle greater patient loads with ever more limited health care resources.  Common in all countries with an aging population.  Fewer workers paying income taxes to fund the health care of a greater number of people who have left the workforce.  Just like they have in the United States.  So what’s happening in the NHS will no doubt happen in Obamacare.  Because we both have an aging population.

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Australia’s First Attempt at digitizing Health Records off to a Poor Start

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 18th, 2012

Week in Review

For a glimpse into the world of Obamacare consider the digitizing of health records in Australia (see Cool response to online health record scheme by Fran Molloy posted 8/14/2012 on The Sydney Morning Herald).

Despite more than 15,000 patients having consented to a shared e-health record in one Brisbane test area alone, only 5000 people have registered with the federal government’s eHealth scheme nationally…

The Queensland initiative was one of three national wave sites trialling the new health record system since February 2011.

Australians attempting to register online have met with a cumbersome process, which requires several clicks and a redirection to the Australia.gov.au website before the registration process can begin…

Sydney IT worker Garry Stevens last week detailed his experience in a letter to the Health Minister, in which he called the registration site a masterpiece of incompetence with interface issues including browser incompatibility, punctuation problems and irritating time-outs.

How many times did the Obama administration say that digital medical records would solve most of the problems in the health care industry?  I don’t have the exact number but it was somewhere around a lot.  And it’s a big part of Obamacare.  There is only one problem.  The organization trying to bring the health care industry into the modern era is the same organization that has left it in the old era.  Somehow trusting the people who have done such a poor job of maintaining records to modernize these same records doesn’t fill one with a whole lot of confidence.  Which is why a lot of Australians are not signing up for this program.

And then there’s the matter of security.  I mean, how many people are going to trust these people with putting their most private and sensitive information on line when they can’t get the little things right?  Like punctuation?  Or browser compatibility?  You just know that there is some kid out there that will be able to easily hack their system.  Or some political operative trying to dig up some dirt on a political opponent.  Worse, they’ll probably not even know if they were hacked.  Well, a politician will know when his or her sexually transmitted disease becomes public.  Should they have one.

And what do we gain from this?  Not much.  Other than a more impersonalized health care system.  Where doctors will spend less time with their patients.  As they use their computer systems to process more patients per hour.  To improve efficiency.  And cut costs.  Because time is money.  And talking to patients just wastes time.

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