Tempus fugit…

Time

Time flies.

It has been almost four months since the general membership of the New Brunswick Medical Society voted strongly in favour of freedom of choice in electronic medical records.

Since then, nothing has changed.  The EMR monopoly persists.

At first we were told that the Board of the NBMS would get together to discuss how to implement  resolutions passed at the September Annual Meeting, as part of a standard process.  Be patient, they said.

After the Board had met, we were told that the NBMS would be willing to act on the wishes of the membership, but that opening the playing field to other EMR vendors would require the approval of the Minister of Health, and the amendment of a secret agreement between his department and the NBMS.   Then we were told that the Minister of Health “wouldn’t hear of it.”   Nothing in writing.   Just the old “he said, she said.”

Not good enough.

Exactly one month ago, I wrote a letter to the President of the NBMS, with copies to the chair of the NBMS Board of Directors, the CEO of the NBMS, and the Minister of Health.   In this letter I requested that the Department of Health be asked IN WRITING to permit other EMR vendors access to DOH databases.

I have received not a single word of response.

Maybe they just need more time.   I will wait.

While I am waiting, I will continue to use my EMR as I have in the past.   I will wait in the hope that someone who is thinking about the needs of patients in this province will see that having more than one EMR option in New Brunswick is a win-win proposition.    Already, at least one vendor has promised to cover all cost of interconnecting with the provincial computers.  There may be more willing to do the same.  There would be no cost to the taxpayers.   Physicians would benefit from faster access to test results, and fewer transcription errors from manually entering date, 1970’s style, into patient files.   Physicians could choose the EMR that best suits their individual needs, enabling them to work more efficiently.  Patients would benefit from improved health care.

So, I will wait.  Patiently.

I urge those responsible for the current “One Size Fits All” EMR philosophy to give their heads a shake and face the truth.   Your plan has failed.   I’m not saying that to be mean or provocative.   It’s a statement of fact.   The numbers you had hoped for are not there.   Nobody wants to be railroaded into an unpopular software choice.   Before being selected by the NBMS as the monopoly vendor, there was not a single doctor in this province who had chosen Intrahealth EMR software of their own volition.  Since then, the few people who have agreed to use it have for the most part had their way paid as salaried physicians, or have been lured by federal subsidies, sweetheart deals, and high pressure sales techniques.

Meanwhile, the real backbone and most vocal proponents of electronic medical records – the early adopters of EMRs who have paid their own way and purchased the system which best fits their budget and needs – are being scorned, marginalized, and ignored.  Sacrificed, as it were, on the twin altars of government indifference and corporate profiteering.

I started this entry with a Latin aphorism and will end it the same way.

Caveat emptor.

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