The U.S. authorities claimed that ditching paper medical charts for digital data would make well being care higher, safer and cheaper. Ten years and $36 billion later, the digital revolution has gone awry.
A KHN and Fortune investigation discovered:
Affected person hurt: Digital well being data have created a number of dangers to affected person security. Alarming reviews of deaths, severe accidents and close to misses — hundreds of them — tied to software program glitches, consumer errors or different system flaws have piled up for years in authorities and personal repositories. But no central database exists to compile and examine these incidents to enhance security.
Indicators of fraud: Federal officers say the software program might be misused to overcharge, a observe referred to as “upcoding.” Some docs and well being programs are alleged to have overstated their use of the brand new know-how, a probably monumental fraud in opposition to Medicare and Medicaid more likely to take years to unravel. Two software program makers have paid a complete of greater than $200 million to settle fraud allegations.
Gaps in interoperability: Proponents of digital well being data anticipated a seamless system so sufferers might share computerized medical histories in a flash with docs and hospitals anyplace within the nation. That has but to materialize, largely as a result of officers allowed lots of of competing corporations to promote medical data software program unable to trade info.
Physician burnout: Many docs say they spend half their day or extra clicking pulldown menus and typing slightly than interacting with sufferers. An emergency room physician might be saddled with making as much as four,000 mouse clicks per shift. This has fueled issues about physician burnout, which in January the Harvard T.H. Chan Faculty of Public Well being and Massachusetts Medical Society known as a “public well being disaster.”
Internet of secrets and techniques: Entrenched insurance policies proceed to maintain software program failures out of public view. Distributors of digital well being data have imposed contractual “gag clauses” that discourage consumers from talking out about issues of safety and disastrous software program installations — and a few hospitals battle to withhold data from injured sufferers or their households.
For an in-depth examination of digital well being data, learn “Loss of life By 1,000 Clicks: The place Digital Well being Data Went Unsuitable.”