Have you ever noticed this? When you go to the doctor now, your doctors and nurses spend half of your appointment staring at a computer screen, asking you pointless questions about things that do not seem to relate to why you are there? Do you ever notice that you end up seeing the back of the doctor’s head more than his face?
Any of this ringing a bell?
This has become affectionately known as the “back of the head” syndrome and is a relatively new phenomenon in the medical industry.
For me, these examples did ring a bell.
I have noticed these new trends in the exam room. I always get a bit perturbed when my doctors are spending so much time putting information in their computer that they seem to forget to actually assess me and figure out my specific health condition and diagnoses.
This recent method of interacting with patients is just the smallest manifestation of changes in the medical industry that run much deeper and are much more sinister.
Ok, so I’m no medical doctor, nor am I an expert on all the specific laws that affect the health sector. Neither am I going to claim to be an expert in the politics of the medical industry, but I do want to be an educated citizen. Therefore, I want to be informed about how different government mandates and laws are affecting important industries that can directly affect me—-like the medical industry.
So, as you read this, understand that I am just beginning to discover (and figure out) the dramatic effects some recent Congressional laws have had on the medical industry. I’m still learning about this. I’m still researching it, and frankly, I’m still a bit confused about some of the more minute details involved. (I’ve found that the more I learn, the more I realize I have so much to learn).
With all this being said, I still want to introduce you all to this fascinating and gravely important reality that is now facing the medical industry. It is something that should be on every American’s radar and therefore, I feel the need to bring the subject to light.
I’m getting all my information right now from a wonderful book—that you all should read—called Big Brother in the Exam Room. This book, written by an RN, exposes the ugly side of what’s been happening behind the scenes in hospitals and exam rooms because of simple bureaucratic changes in how the government controls doctors.
And guys, this stuff is crazy. It blew my mind and I fully expect it to blow yours.
Alright, so you all may be thinking, “Well, yeah. We all know the Affordable Care Act changed everything! Isn’t that what you’re talking about?” Mmmm, not exactly. And if I pressed you about the Affordable Care Act, could you really tell me, in detail, what and how it changed the way you are personally being serviced by the medical industry? (Honesty here: even I could not—not yet anyway).
So, the change I’m referring to is a little known mandate (FYI: a mandate is defined as “any provision in statute or regulation or any Federal court ruling that imposes an enforceable duty upon State, local, or tribal governments including a condition of Federal assistance or a duty arising from participation in a voluntary Federal program…in other words, there’s no Constitutional justification for a federal mandate) implemented under a little known law, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (originally passed in 2009).
Here’s what it does:
“As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, all public and private healthcare providers and other eligible professionals (EP) were required to adopt and demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic medical records (EMR) by January 1, 2014 in order to maintain their existing Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement levels…
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also included financial incentives for healthcare providers who prove meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR). EHR is not only a more comprehensive patient history than electronic medical records (EMR), the latter of which contains a patient’s medical history from just one practice, but was also the end-goal of the federal mandate.”
Sounds rather vague and harmless right?
Basically, people in Congress, got together and said, “We’re spending too much money in the healthcare industry. We’re about to run out of money for medicare and medicaid. WE need to do something to cut cost and give ourselves and other outsiders (insurance companies, research companies etc) the power to control how much money doctors are spending on patients”. And so, they agreed upon creating a government mandated universal electronic health record system.
Doctors used to have their own health record systems but they were their own records, and that’s it.
This new electronic health record requirement now holds doctors accountable to a higher power that requires them to provide a specific amount of information and prescribe a specific type of diagnoses that complies with the expectations of the government and outsiders. Mrs. Brase, author of Big Brother in the Exam Room, says in exacerbation, that those who designed this electronic health record system have no idea how to take care of a patient.
Ok, let me break this down for you a bit. Doctors now have to check off certain boxes and fulfill certain protocol (mandated by the government and insurance companies—to name a few) if they are going to be paid. This is a form of control aimed at cutting cost. The government and the insurance companies now receive data they didn’t before, which allows them to control.
If the doctors don’t comply with the expectations and regulations of these companies and the government, they are punished for not providing “quality” care. Scroll up and read the language of the mandate again. The doctors must show “meaningful use” in the exam room.
And this quality service or meaningful use is decided by people who are not in the exam room, focusing on the patient and seeing what the patient, specifically, needs. So, doctors are now trapped under the thumb of others who are dictating to them whether or not their service is quality service. (Quality medical service cannot be quantified. Think about it.)
I’m not going to pretend to understand all the ins and outs of the medical industry here, but what I do know, is that doctors are the ones who have spent all the money and time to be trained up to provide quality service to their patients—-not government bureaucrats and not insurance companies. Yes?
So, what’s the goal here? The goal of this mandate and law? The patient and the patient’s well being?
No, the goal here is cutting cost, data collection, data reporting and data to control doctors regardless of the cost to the patients. The government now uses the electronic health record to contain costs by controlling the doctor and what he can or cannot do. I cannot emphasize this enough. The electronic health records system was never made for patient care.
Here are the consequences of this dangerous amount of control the government now wields over doctors and hospitals.
Doctors are now heavily preoccupied with inputting all the information they are required to gather for the electronic health records in order to get paid.
If they do not complete the electronic records appropriately and completely, the outsiders (insurance and government) will not pay them.
This process of box clicking diminishes the quality of focusing on the patient (sometimes patients are even told they can only ask a certain few questions because of how little time the doctors now have)
Doctors hate it. They now feel like they are data clerks, beholden to the whims of outsiders, when many doctors entered the medical field to serve patients, not the government or insurance companies.
The patients are no longer the focus of the appointment; filling out the electronic health record is.
Patients are discouraged from talking as much and are losing trust in their doctors because doctors don’t seem to be as invested in them personally.
These electronic health records, under HIPAA, are available to be shared, without consent, to 2.2 million business entities, some in the health care industry, but others in research or many other fields. This means, all patients across America are now becoming research subjects without the choice to consent. Individuals have a right not to be researched without their consent because researchers want access for their own purposes.
There are many objectionable research projects that are created to push policy in certain directions——and Americans’ private information is now being used as a tool for these policy agendas.
Researchers can now come up with a statistic regarding the type of treatment that best suits a certain type of patient or diagnoses.
Example: 75% of patients will respond to such and such treatment.
Doctors will be measured up against this statistic and don’t have the freedom to offer patients who perhaps fall outside of this 75 percentile any other treatment.
Meaning, the doctor very literally may not even have the code needed to prescribe a different medicine—it’s not electronically available—-because it is falls outside of the required statistical range the researchers have set.
A study in 2016 showed that 50% of all doctors are looking to leave the medical industry—-largely because they no longer have the freedom to treat patients the way they want to treat patients. This mandate is killing the joy of being a doctor for many physicians. They are no longer able to have a real patient-doctor relationship and are forced to do the bidding of someone who is not a doctor.
The fact that so many doctors are leaving the medical industry is a HUGE cost to the patients, who don’t realize that many of their doctors are looking to just get out.
On top of all of this, what diagnoses are being missed as doctors are starring at the computer screen rather than their patients?
Overall, the entire medical industry is suffering, crushed under the mandates, regulations and expectations of providing “quality” care—which cannot be quantified—for their patients in order to receive payment. This has changed everything about the doctor patient relationship and is causing a mass exodus of doctors—-which does not bode well for the future of the medical industry.
Ok, so there are some things here that require more research and exploration, which I will do. For instance, what are the specific ways that the government and insurance companies are determining “quality” service? What specifically are they looking for and requiring doctors to do in order to be a “quality” health care provider? What and how are the insurance companies and government paying these doctors according to this data that they use to determine “quality” care? These are just a few of the details I still want to fully uncover for myself and then for the rest of y’all.
For now though, at least you have been exposed to this lethal form of government control. Did you know this was happening? I didn’t, but now that I do, I’m invested in knowing more. The consequences of this power are endless and vast.
Think about it. There is no Constitutional adherence involved in this power, meaning there is nothing restricting government regulation over the medical industry. Since there is no limit to government regulation and power over doctors through their ability to control by requiring “quality” service for pay, what is to stop the government/insurance companies from choosing to withhold money from doctors who do not recommend abortions to their patients? What if that begins to be considered “quality” care? What else could they start requiring doctors to do?
My sister-in-law recently watched One Child Nation, a documentary about the one child requirement in China. When I read her a rough draft of this post, she began to see the similarities between our government forcing our doctors to perform a certain type of “quality” care to get paid and the Chinese government forcing midwives in China to kill babies that were born into families after the families had already had their one son. As outlandish as the thought of that happening in America is, all horrible over-extensions of power start with small over-extensions of power.
I hope I’ve stirred in everyone an intense curiosity to start looking into this electronic health record mandate and its repercussions. Go research it, buy the book and learn more. As an American citizen, it is something we all must know about if we are to do anything to stop it.
Until next time.
The Liberty Belle
4 thoughts on “The Dark Truth About Government Mandated Electronic Health Records”
Great article! It’s not only doctors but all healthcare professions are under these mandates. As a physical therapist, we are now being “mandated” to provide minimal care to patients and see multiple patients at a time and “document electronically” while you are trying to work with a patient who needs maximal assistance in order for rehab companies to continue to increase their profit. It would be nice if quality care was based on the medical professionals expertise and not the policies of Medicare that dictates how all insurance companies will operate based on the $ and not the patient regaining their optimal health or a good quality of life at least. This results in patients being sent home from hospitals & rehab centers before they are physically ready which means more re-hospitalizations which actually does the opposite and increases the cost of care. On top of that, if a person is re-hospitalized within a certain time frame, the hospital now risks not being reimbursed for the 2nd or 3rd time the patient has ended up back in the hospital. It’s crazy how much healthcare has changed in the last 17 years that I’ve been a part of it and not for the better. I actually liked having to write out notes and getting to spend more time with my patients because sometimes they needed what I call “talk therapy” so much more than the physical therapy some days! On a personal note…I do not particularly care for the fact that the 2 large hospital systems where I live now can and do share all my medical data across their systems which means throughout the entire state I live in. I guess I’m just an old fashioned person who wants a doctor to know me personally like when I was a kid! The kind of office where you would sign a release to have your records copied and when ready to pick up at the office’s front desk, you would actually “interact” with the front office staff that knew you on a first name basis! Gone are those days and doctors like that are far and few between now!
Thank you for the comment Leigh! It is fascinating to hear from someone who is behind the scenes. It sounds like the electronic health record has severely changed the relationship dynamic between you and your patient (s). The patient is supposed to the point of the medical industry and it seems as if we’ve been reduced to a number. 🙁
I have only recently discovered you and wanted to go back and read some of your past articles.
This article really struck a cord with me. I’ve been complaining about how broken our healthcare system is for several years now. This article addressed a few of my concerns. One being that it seems like you only get a couple of minutes with the doctor and that they don’t really listen to you. A previous commenter stated that some of these practices are actually increasing costs and that is another one of my complaints. If doctors were allowed to take the time to listen the FIRST time I come in for any given issue, then I likely would not have to return over and over and over. Another issue I have with our healthcare system is that it seems we are pointed in the direction of medications first without any attempt to rectify issues through lifestyle changes.
I have blamed the ACA for these issues because these issues seemed to surface around the same time the ACA was implemented. And it may have impacted these issues to some degree, but it’s interesting to note that another lesser known mandate is also having an impact in these areas. I now understand why I see people asking for recommendations for doctors who DO NOT take Medicare or Medicaid.
Thank you for all the work you do in researching issues you post about.
Thank you for the comment! There’s much more research I’d like to do in this arena but what little I have done has been eye opening and horrifying. But we have to start somewhere, building our knowledge where we can.
I’m so glad you discovered me! I’m curious to know how you did? I’m working to expand the number of people “discovering” me as quickly and broadly as I can.