How This Technology Is Making Doctors Hate Their Jobs | Fast Company

Christina Farr:

[Electronic medical records were] supposed to reduce inefficiencies, make doctors’ lives easier, and improve patient outcomes. The only problem? Many hospitals spent millions (and sometimes, billions) on systems that weren’t designed to help their providers treat patients. “Frankly, the main incentive is to document exhaustively so you cover your ass and get paid,” says Jay Parkinson, a New York-based pediatrician and the founder of health-tech startup Sherpaa.

I think Jay Parkinson is primarily referring to physician incentives in the use of EMRs. The larger problem not addressed in this piece is that hospitals are the biggest buyers of EMRs. Hospitals, above all, want an integrated and efficient billing system. Ideally, they’d like an automated system so they could get rid of billers [1] and generate bills automatically from doctor’s notes in realtime. Physician workflow is only a tertiary consideration.

Follow the money. Until doctors are the primary buyers of the electronic systems, other priorities for those holding the money will predominate.

  1. Hospitals employ people for the sole purpose of “translating” a doctor’s note into a bill they can send to an insurer or patient. These people require specific training in medical coding. Thus, they are expensive employees and it takes time for them to “translate” the note, time that the hospital is not getting payment.  ↩