Electronic medical records were supposed to save doctors’ time and improve results by putting your entire medical history in one place.

Two major problems.

First, it doesn’t work. What takes a physician a couple of minutes to write on your chart now can become a burdensome scroll through computer screens:

Government regulators are backing down from many of their toughest requirements for doctors’ and hospitals’ use of digital medical records, just as Congress is stepping up its oversight of issues with the costly technology.

Under the Affordable Care Act, doctors and hospitals are being pushed to switch from paper to electronic records….

The federal government has spent about $28 billion in incentives to help doctors install and use EHRs, also called EMRs.

But these digitized records remain the bane of many doctor and patient relationships in the Louisville area and across the nation, as physicians stare at computer screens during consultations….

Electronic health records “have made our lives harder” without improving safety, said Jean Ross, co-president of National Nurses United. Last year, the nurse union called on the FDA “to enact much tougher oversight and public protections” on electronic health records use.

Meanwhile, the medical industry is urging HHS to give it even more time and flexibility to improve systems.

“The level of federal involvement and prescriptiveness now is unhealthy,” Wachter said. “It has skewed the marketplace so vendors are spending too much time meeting federal regulations rather than innovating.”

Politico further reports that the idea of electronic records, conceived as an idea under G.W. Bush but implemented by the Obama administration, found a lot of federal money chasing an idea whose technology was not ready:

President Bush’s dream only started to flower when Obama started cutting big checks….

In surveys, doctors describe the EHR as the biggest cause of job burnout—worse than long hours, billing and other nuisances. One frequent complaint is mental strain. In the computer, the doctor’s note goes from being an almost literary narrative of the patient’s condition to a series of checkboxes. Each visit reads much like the last because the computer software provides exhaustive information with the object of satisfying billing needs. The doctors can’t tell one patient from another in the absence of idiosyncratic impressions. The memorable rash or symptom a patient reported is buried in screen after screen of seemingly trivial data. In an ER or ICU, with time of the essence, this can become a critical safety problem.

All is proceeding just as I expected, Destroying healthcare, one form at a time.

Equally important, recent hacks of major health insurance companies reveal our worst fears that the most personal information will be exposed to a foreign government, criminals, or just malicious people out to ruin lives.

Data about more than 120 million people has been compromised in more than 1,100 separate breaches at organizations handling protected health data since 2009, according to Department of Health and Human Services data reviewed by The Washington Post.

“That’s a third of the U.S. population — this really should be a wake-up call,” said Deborah Peel, the executive director of Patient Privacy Rights.

The data may double-count some individuals if they had their information compromised in more than incident, but it still reflects a staggering number of times Americans have been affected by breaches at organizations trusted with sensitive health information. And the data does not yet reflect the hack of Premera, which announced this week that hackers may have accessed information, including medical data, on up to 11 million people.

The OPM hack is particularly troublesome and deep, ABC News reports, as it demonstrates the danger to nation-state hackers from information under federal government control:


ABC US News | World News

The Washington Post article below documents one doctor’s experience with federally mandated electronic health care records.

The story is familiar, as I’ve heard it myself from doctors. Doctors always had to spend time filling out insurance forms, but now it is so much worse. To comply with federal Medicaid and Medicare regulations (plus new Obamacare regs) not only means having the staff to comply (hence, doctors moving to larger practice groups or hospital-affiliated groups), but also more and more time spent trying to comply with electronic medical records requirements….

It’s professional death by a thousand forms.

The massive hack into federal systems announced last week was far deeper and potentially more problematic than publicly acknowledged, with hackers believed to be from China moving through government databases undetected for more than a year, sources briefed on the matter told ABC News.

“If [only] they knew the full extent of it,” one U.S. official said about those affected by the intrusion into the Office of Personnel Management’s information systems.

It all started with an initial intrusion into OPM’s systems more than a year ago, and after gaining that initial access the hackers were able to work their way through four different “segments” of OPM’s systems, according to sources.

While we don’t need to go back to the stone tablet, I have zero confidence in the privacy of any centralized database, a concern I expressed in 2009 even before Obamacare was law, and again in 2011, Don’t worry, your centralized medical records are safe:

Creating a centralized electronic medical record is one of the primary goals of the Obama administration (and Bush before that, although not funded) under the theory that a centralized record will lead to greater efficiencies.

Don’t worry, your centralized medical records will be safe.

Unless, of course, someone working for the government decides to steal it and sell it, as happened in Israel…

Electronic medical records is a questionable idea, centralized electronic medical records is an unquestionably bad idea.