The Happy Hospitalist has an excellent article in this week’s Grand Rounds. Happy describes the current billing, charting, coding nightmare from a doctor’s perspective, and notes that it is an extremely inefficient system, but one that is perpetuated by the fact that without jumping through all those hoops, the docs don’t get paid.
So he proposes an alternative: an open source history and physical exam that would allow different doctors to access and add to each other’s notes without having to duplicate work already done by someone else. It makes perfect sense, and does seem like a much better way to avoid errors in patient care.
Happy notes that such a system would work best with a bundled care reimbursement model, and that some doctors are nervous about such a system because they fear that they would earn less money overall. But he goes on to point out that earning a little less money might be well worth it if your job is easier and you get to spend far less time repeating tasks that someone else has already done. In addition, there would be less paperwork (electronic or otherwise) for health insurance companies to process, which should result in lower administrative expenses.
I love this idea. I’m a big fan of technological advancements in health care billing, charting, prescribing, etc. In an era when we can carry around phones the size of a deck of cards that double as palm-top computers, medical providers should be able to spend their days helping patients rather than worrying about getting their coding just right (and duplicating the work of six other doctors in the process) in order to get paid.