Letter: Meaningful use is meaningless for my patients

August 20, 2015

The following is excerpted from a response to a letter published in the July 25, 2015 issue of Medical Economics by Elmer F. Toro, M.D. It is followed by his response to this and other letters of support he has received.

Editor's note: The following is excerpted from a response to a letter published in the July 25, 2015 issue of Medical Economics by Elmer F. Toro, M.D. It is followed by his response to this and other letters of support he has received.

 

Dr. Toro, I completely agree with you.

I read your letter "

," Medical Economics,July 25, 2015, and just wanted to write to let you know that you are not alone.

I opted out of meaningful use and despite all the threats and warnings, [I seem] to survive just fine.

However, after 20+ years in practice, it would be so nice to have recognition from CMS that I do know how to take care of patients. Without meaningful use!

All these entities would have to do is ask my patients. We could start an Ask My Patients (AMP) movement. For instance: Did your doctor help you in any meaningful way in this past calendar year that you would like to report to us? If my patients had the opportunity to answer a questionnaire like this, they would jump at it. I would bet that the "meaningful way" patients see me is much in alignment to what these agencies are striving to find anyway. [It] takes the burden of reporting off our busy backs and puts it in the hands of the people who are actually experiencing our care anyway.

Lisa Quillin, M.D.

Quillin Family Medicine

Eugene, Oregon

 

 

I would like to thank those who have provided encouraging words regarding my letter. I have received several phone calls in the office offering support.

I know it might sound crazy, but I can only assume that the scam we now refer to as meaningful use has little to do with our ability to manage patients and more to do with the desire for people in control to get a better grasp of the overall medical condition of the general population. If I am correct, meaningful use will be here forever, which means my [days] in the medical field are numbered. …

I suspect that in order to make any significant change (and we definitely have the power to do so as physicians), what would need to happen is to get a substantial majority [of physicians] involved in taking steps that [are] collectively agreed to and then implemented. That is going to be a difficult process in light of the fact that we are dealing with human beings and some of us may not be willing to fight for our patients to the same degree. …

Undoubtedly, regardless of the size of the group willing to do so, you can bet CMS and other insurance companies will try and influence our actions using financial constraints. I am more than willing to discuss with anyone (in between seeing patients) managing meaningful use, troubleshooting the computers in the office, reading articles necessary to [stay] current in medical practice, etc. There will soon come a time when I will relinquish my responsibilities as a physician. If at that time things have not improved, it will become my life's mission to change the future. Until then I am more than willing to develop a rapport and start the communication to that end, with any and all of my colleagues all over the country.

Elmer F. Toro, M.D.

Lehigh Acres, Florida