Today the grand kids and I went to the eye doctor for a regular check up. I know I need new glasses. I broke my regular pair and lost my sunglasses. It was time to go. Our eye doctor who we've used for the past 15 years moved his office so it's not as convenient to go. I decided to find another eye doctor who is closer to our home. I researched it and found a good doctor about 10 minutes from home.
Being new, I had to fill out the normal questionnaire. Who am I, what the insurance is, address, phone number, etc. There were a few new types of questions. Do you smoke? Do you drink? What medications are you on? What diseases do you have/have you had/run in your family? Do you use illegal drugs? Do you have any allergies? If so, what are you allergic to? Not quite sure what these questions have to do with my vision.
The assistant typed all the answers into the computer. She apologized for going so slow. It's a new program and they are being required to go paperless in the office. She said that everything has to be put into the computer. She asked again about the smoking, drinking, and drugs. No I don't smoke or do drugs. I drink sometimes. Allergic so some topical ointments used during surgery, but since we aren't having surgery there's no problem. She started the exam. All went well to start.
Then the doctor came in. He finished up the exam. We all need glasses. He and I spoke about the grand kids and my prescriptions. I asked for a copy of the prescriptions. Although I was going to get my insurance covered glasses from him, I wanted to be able to order glasses on line as well. I've heard you can get them really inexpensively. He then started putting more of the exam info into the computer. He was grumbling about having to go paperless. What do you mean, "having to"? Aren't you the owner of this business? Who is making you?
His answer was frightening. The doctor is required to "council" patients how smoke, drink, use drugs, etc. But that's the least of the issue. The federal government is making him, and all doctors, go paperless. In order for his office to get any federal reimbursement (medicare, medi-cal, etc.) he needed to be on line and in this computer system. It's a mandate and he will be penalized if he doesn't comply. If he doesn't have his paperwork in the federal system then he will be fined 1% this year, 2% next year, and 3% the year after, and MUST be in compliance by the end of 2015. Tell me more, doc, about this system.
It seems that the federal government will now have access to all medical records - medical, dental, vision, ALL. Not only that but the feds will have this info. Not only will they know exactly what a say to my doctor. It will all be documented. What my prescription is, they will know what I am allergic to, how often I go to the doctor, dentist, eye doc, any specialist.
How can I get out of the system? I don't know. If I pay cash you'd think that they wouldn't have to put me in but I think they are being required to include everyone, no matter how they pay, in order to get reimbursed for those patients. What ever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality? It's now doctor, patient, federal government. Don't you feel so much better now?