It’s time again to take a break from the ho-hum inertial world of electronic medical records to contemplate the bigger questions of life and death. In particular… death.
Few people are comfortable talking about death. It’s a topic which most of us would rather sweep under the rug. I see this every day in my medical practice, when I try to raise the issue of advance directives and end-of-life care. Most people would rather just change the topic.
Yet death is something we will all face. We need to talk about it and think about it while we are able, and have the opportunity to do so. There are a few people who have thought about this in great detail, and have formulated a plan for their own end-of-life care. Some have been denied that option, with death coming suddenly and unexpectedly, by accident, catastrophic disease, or violence. Others have been robbed of the chance to choose how they will be cared for as they are dying by insidious diseases like any of the many forms of dementia.
Fortunately, in many communities there are people willing to meet death head on. In Fredericton, we have Hospice Fredericton, and our (relatively) new palliative care medical specialist Dr. Debra Gowan. Together, they are putting end-of-life discussions, planning, and infrastructure development on the front burner, and we need to thank them for it.
If you have not heard about Hospice Fredericton, take a listen to this:
Hospice Fredericton needs your help. I have donated to this very worthy group in the past, and intend to do so again. And I have a plan which, if it can be actualized, will provide a much needed infusion of cash to help with the purchase and refurbishment of Rosary Hall, making it the 10-bed focal point of the program.
So, you may be thinking, are you not going to say anything about EMR’s this time?
In fact I am.
In the new fee-for-service contract developed by the New Brunswick Medical Society, there is a promise of $1,500,000 per year to support the provincial EMR program. This will be coming from the budget of the Department of Health. There are many doctors who are already using EMRs, and have not required any government handouts to make it work. There are many others who don’t have any interest in using an EMR.
I propose that any physician who does not need or intend to ask for EMR money from the government write to the NBMS and ask that their share of the money be redirected to Hospice Fredericton. I have already done so. Here’s how I put it to the CEO of the NBMS:
Dear Mr. Knight,
I see in the new FFS contract there is a provision for $1,500,000 to encourage the adoption of EMR technology. With 950 doctors eligible for the provincial program, that would make my share approximately $1578 per year.
Since I am already using an EMR and am happy to continue to pay for it on my own indefinitely, I would like to have my share of the available funding donated to the Hospice Fredericton program, to support end of life care in my home region.
Once the contract is ratified, please have the cheque mailed to:
P.O. Box 802
Thank you for your assistance in supporting this very worthy cause.
Now, I expect the nay-sayers will come up with some sort of procedural excuse for why we can’t do this.
But wouldn’t it be great if we could!