I read with interest your From the Editor piece about the future of EHRs and your comment that "These early days of Barack Obama's presidency offer us all a sliver of optimism that a new administration might right the course of healthcare in America" ["Pressing 'pause' on EHR," February 6, 2009]. I do not share this point of view; apparently, however, the vast majority of physicians agree with you, and this really worries me.
If you take the time to read Obama's plan for healthcare (I read it just before he was elected), what he is essentially preaching is socialized medicine, pure and simple. Please tell me the last time that more government intervention was helpful for this country?
I would suppose one reason why many docs support Obama is his promise of healthcare for all. This sounds great, but Obama has left out a huge part of the equation: Who is going to see all these millions of patients, when and if this happens?
Look, for instance, at what has happened in Massachusetts, with its requirement that all state residents have health insurance. Not only is this state program millions of dollars in the red, but emergency rooms there are flooded with patients presenting with common primary care complaints who cannot find a primary care provider. Now multiply this scenario by 50, and you have what Obama is preaching.
I know this country is in the midst of a healthcare crisis, but more government intervention is not and never has been the answer to our problems. If you are a practicing doc, then I feel your pain. If you are not, then I can guarantee you one thing: You'd be hard-pressed to keep from pulling your hair out if you spent even one week with me in my office to witness all the barriers insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid put up to keep me from doing what's best for my patients.
A national EHR network may be inevitable, but I believe if this happens, physicians will see the acronym not as "electronic health record" but as "exit healthcare rightaway!"
JOE BADOLATO, DO
Talk to regular doctors
I read your recent EHR editorial, and I really enjoyed your insights. I am 52 years old and love practicing as a cardiologist in the Dallas, Texas, area.
I would like to pass along that the recent startup of EMR in my group has been painful, to say the least. It has led to many hours of clicking on the computer long after the office is closed and before I can make it back to the hospital for evening rounds. I often ask myself how this can be considered progress, other than the fact that it's on a computer.
I wish that the people who think that EMR is so great would talk to regular practicing doctors. I can tell you that there are nights when I simply have to stop clicking before I have completed all of my patient records because of a severe pain in my left trapezius muscle area.
I am all for progress in medicine, but forcing doctors to do something that is so radically different from the way they have worked just doesn't seem like progress to me.
You are the first person that at least raised the concept that EMR is a very difficult thing to begin. I hope that we can avoid having punitive measures placed on those physicians who prefer not to get involved with computers.
JOSEPH F. BELLOMO, MD, FACC