(Snippets from the frontline)
My patient visited New York and had a heart attack. Upon his return, it took 6 weeks to get medical records snail-mailed back to California. A patient had endoscopy (looked in her stomach) at a hospital 12 miles away. Again, after filling out paperwork and jumping through legal hoops, it still took over a month for records to arrive.
You would think with modern technology, computerization would instantly allow a touch of a button to obtain medical records. Rarely.
The use of computers has become ubiquitous especially in doctor offices and hospitals. Medical professionals focus on screens inputting data and information, some of which contributes nothing to patient care.
There has been computer benefits like decreasing errors related to drugs, and speeding results allowing quicker hospital workup and discharge. For me, it is now easier to read my consultant’s dictations instead of their written chicken-scratch notes.
The reality is, computers were legislatively imposed by lobbyists to provide easier billing for hospitals and insurance companies, while keeping tabs on pre-existing conditions for future denials. Ultimately though, they de-personalized the patient connection with doctors and nurses.
Chicken-scratch is out. Snail-mail is still in.
Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.