Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dammit’ Jim, I’m a Doctor, not a Coder

In my many years in Healthcare I know that Doctors are looked upon with awe and admiration, sometimes irritation, but never has anyone mistaken a Doctor for a Coder, until now.

In a report released earlier this year, the GAO found that just 15% of hospital patients accessed their medical records, even though 88% of hospitals offer access. A third accessed medical information from physician practices.

Carolyn Yocom, a director in the GAO’s healthcare team, said in an audio interview in the post that poor interoperability is another roadblock to access, which is especially frustrating when they're trying to prepare for an appointment or, worse, in an emergency.

Providers should make it easy for patients to access everything they need in one place to avoid a frustrating experience, Yocom said.”

I can tell you from front line experience, the majority of patients do not like the portal and there are many reasons. The reasons that I have heard include:

1)      I don’t use the internet
2)      Your portal uses cookies, I don’t do cookies
3)      There are too many portals. I can’t remember all the passwords.
4)      I don’t have a computer, only my phone (Portals do not work on phones).
5)      I want to talk to my doctor.
6)      I want to talk to a nurse about my lab work.
7)      It is too complicated and takes too much time.
8)      The government can track me; I don’t want my information on the internet.

So Carolyn Yocom says that “Providers should make it easier for patients…” WAIT, WHAT?

Does Ms. Yocom know that Doctors did not write the code for the EMR’s that support the Patient Portals? Doctors were only told by the government to buy these expensive EMR’s and provide the service to their patients. If the Doctors did/do not do this, then they can face reductions in their insurance reimbursements in the future. So as good Doctors we bought the EMR’s and we have established portals for our patients to use.

However, as this article points out, nobody bothered checking with patients if they would like to have a portal. It seems patients are not thrilled with this government mandate, as we experience daily with very loud and angry complaints.

On behalf of all Doctors and Medical Offices in America Ms. Yocom, I will not let you lay the blame for this disaster on our doorstep. It was the government that mandated the creation of Portals and it was the Coders who developed the Portals.

So, to Ms. Yocom I respond, “The Government and Coders should make it easy for patients to access everything they need in one place to avoid a frustrating experience; the Doctors have done all they can.

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