I hand-delivered the following letter to the office of the New Brunswick Minister of Health September 26, 2013, on behalf of those opposed to the Velante/NBMS monopoly EMR scheme in this province. At this time, just prior to the New Brunswick Medical Society’s Annual Meeting, the NBMS had yet to acknowledge that a secret exclusionary Data Sharing Agreement had been brokered with the Department of Health, with the goal of crippling and stifling any competing EMR vendors. In front of an audience of scores of doctors, NBMS CEO Anthony Knight had the gall to deny the existence of the secret deal, despite the fact that he had signed off on it just a few months before.
Here’s what the letter had to say:
“Dear Mr. Flemming,
I am pleased to present you with a petition signed by 94 doctors and allied health care workers in this province who are asking for your assistance.
We have a common goal of ensuring that there is not a government-sanctioned monopoly in the provincial electronic medical record program.
Many of us are early adopters of the system offered by Telus Health and have invested heavily at our own expense in advanced technology in order to improve the health of our patients. Telus health is the national leader in EMRs, and is used by approximately 10,000 doctors across the country. I believe I speak for all of us when I say we have no interest in switching to the system currently offered by Velante and supported by the New Brunswick Medical Society.
We are asking that we be treated fairly and equally when it comes time to interconnect with Department of Health databases and download test results and other reports electronically.
We are hoping for some assurance that you support a competitive EMR marketplace, which allows at least some freedom of choice to the health care workers on the front line.
Thank you for your attention.”
As a result of this petition, nothing changed. Not surprising, since the Ministry of Health prefers to deal with the NBMS, not isolated groups of doctors, and certainly not with one isolated, shunned, and ignored individual clutching a petition, regardless of how many doctors had signed it. Knowing that his Deputy Minister had signed the ironically named Data Sharing Agreement, the Minister was well within his rights to wash his hands of the matter and throw it back to the NBMS. After all, they represent the province’s doctors.
That’s the problem.
It is sad to say, but the NBMS does not represent me, and it does not represent the many progressively minded doctors who have been using EMRs for years.
The single-minded obsession of those at the helm of the worm-eaten scow we call the NBMS is the establishment of a monopoly EMR in this province. In their willy-nilly pursuit of this goal they are well on their way to bankrupting the NBMS. It appears that they will stop at nothing. Anyone who dares to question the plan is either mocked, undermined, or simply disregarded. Letters to the President go unanswered. General membership resolutions are ignored.
I know how to play chess. It’s a complex game with simple rules. The NBMS plays a different game, and they make up the rules as they go along. In this twisted Alice-in-Wonderland version of the game the Queen is a mere figurehead.
It’s the Knight that wields the power.
Just do as he says or it’s off with your head!