Electronic Medical Records- Friend or Foe?

The government has implemented a mandatory program to shift the health industry into the digital age. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act enacted under Title XIII of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, provides incentives to physician practices and hospitals. But for those who do not meet the electronic medical records deadline for implementation, the government has laid out a series of penalties which include a reduction on medicare reimbursements which increases each year. The incentives provided by the government is intended to help defray some of the costs of transferring medical records to EMR and incorporating a comprehensive software program in the medical practice.

The overall purpose of the program is to centralize all medical records so that your doctors can access your medical history at the touch of a keystroke. This modernizing medical record collection and access is a terrific medical advance which will improve the quality of care and definitely save lives. It will allow for a more comprehensive approach to your medical problems since your doctors records will all be in one place.

Yet, the electronic file system and the good it will do, is still far off. Since medical doctors do not have to use a uniform software program, a cottage industry has emerged with dozens of tech companies offering their own version of a software program which complies with federal regulations. Many doctors are stumbling with the software and having problems uploading all of their patient information.

We have found that many times our client’s information is not uploaded properly by the doctor, since they are forced to use a narrowly guided format that does not fully allow individual comments. Portions of the form will “populate” as normal, unless the doctor or PA specifically goes into the EMR and checks off the boxes for positive findings.
What can a patient do about this? Especially in our disability law practice, when record keeping and a patient’s symptoms are critical to the claim process, a patient should request a copy of their electronic record once completed. In this way, the patient can check the accuracy of the information, so that the wrong information does not become a permanent record, difficult to contest later on.

Since insurance companies will rely on this data when make claim payment decisions, or when deciding if medical care is needed, patients must advocate for their rights in this way. We at Bonny G. Rafel are experienced in working with doctors to ensure that their medical records accurately reflect our client’s symptoms and conditions, to ensure that they receive the benefits they deserve.

– By Bonny G. Rafel, Esq.

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