Tags: Health Topics | Healthcare Reform | electronic health records | EHR | surgeon | Singer | Obamacare

Surgeon: Electronic Health Records Do More Harm Than Good

By    |   Tuesday, 17 February 2015 08:33 PM

A Phoenix-based surgeon has a beef with an Obamacare mandate that requires physicians to begin using electronic health records (EHRs) because they're causing the quality of care to go down as prices are going up.

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Jeffrey A. Singer writes that he is an "unwilling participant" in the program, which means his reimbursement rate could be cut by 1 percent — and five times that by end of the decade.

The program is mandated for physicians who treat medicare patients, according to Singer.

"I am an unwilling participant in this program. In my experience, EHRs harm patients more than they help," Singer writes.

The program, according to the doctor, was pioneered by integrated health systems like Kaiser Permanente and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In the 2009 federal stimulus bill, the government ordered all physicians who see medicare patients to adopt the practice of keeping EHRs by 2015.

Singer essentially argues that the government did not do its homework before passing the measure.

"The federal government barely bothered to study electronic health records before nationalizing the program," Singer writes. "The Department of Health and Human Services initiated a five-year pilot program in 2008 to encourage physicians in 12 cities and states to use electronic health records. One year later, the stimulus required EHRs nationwide.

"By moving forward without sufficient evidence, lawmakers ignored the possibility that what worked for Kaiser or the VA might not work as well for Dr. Jones. Which is exactly what is happening today. Electronic health records are contributing to two major problems: lower quality of care and higher costs," Singer says.

Singer also writes that having to fill out EHRs, which can lead to IT issues, takes his attention away from patients.

"This is more than a mere nuisance; it is an impediment to providing personal medical attention," Singer says.

The doctor cites a 2014 survey of physicians, which found that 67 percent of them are unhappy with the way EHRs work.

Nearly three quarters of physicians polled would not purchase the current EHR system they use, while almost half think they simply cost too much.

Singer would like to see Washington spend more time on the issue of using EHRs as opposed to the broader topic of the Affordable Care Act.

"Congress has devoted scant attention to this issue, instead focusing on the larger Obamacare debate," Singer writes. "But ending the mandatory electronic-health-record program should be a plank in the Republican party's healthcare agenda. For all the good intentions of the politicians who passed them, electronic health records have harmed my practice and my patients."

Singer's comments come on the heels of five Republican governors' claims that they will not rescue a crucial piece of Obamacare that deals with tax-credit subsidies.

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A Phoenix-based surgeon writes in The Wall Street Journal about his beef with an Obamacare mandate that requires physicians to begin using electronic health records (EHRs) because they're causing the quality of care to go down as prices are going up.
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Tuesday, 17 February 2015 08:33 PM
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