-By Warner Todd Huston
A popular, longtime Doctor from central Illinois has been sidelined by employer Springfield-based Memorial Health System because he has not become proficient with the electronic medical records system, named EPIC Systems, that they purchased and implemented. Patients are so incensed that they've started a Facebook page as well as a blog to rally to his defense.
This situation brings into focus the problem of top-down
medical solutions, calling into question the efficacy of healthcare by
committee, not to mention Obmacare itself. Do we really want to sacrifice good
doctors in favor of good followers of top-down rules? Do we want good users of
computers or excellent doctors?
The doctor, Steven Kottemann, 63, was placed on paid
administrative leave in September because they felt he was not properly
utilizing the new electronic medical records system that his employer, Family
Medical Center, instituted.
Kotteman initially tried to upload verbal recordings of his
notes made when meeting with patients, but the system failed to accept the
recordings. The only other option was to type in by hand all his patient notes.
Kottemann tried to input the notes while actually with his patients but
eventually came to feel that typing at a computer while trying to give care to
his patients was not conducive to good care.
Dr. Kottemann then began staying late after office hours to
type in all the notes but due to a stroke of his own the effort became too much
“It got to the point where I was going in seven days a week
to keep up,” Kottemann told the State-Register
For its part, the employer says that Kottemann’s lack of
proficiency with the computer system was not the only reason they fired him but
Memorial Medical Center refused to comment further on this story when I
Kottemann’s patients, though, are not as reluctant to
comment. His patients have become incensed that their favorite doctor has been
fired merely because he doesn't meet administrator's expectations for computer
They started a blog to come to his aid. There blog
one patient praised Dr. Kottemann saying, "I don’t need a 15 min Dr, or a
computer whiz… I need a doctor that cares about me and my family. I have that
in Dr. Kottemann."
There are other equally laudatory entries.
Kottemann is now afraid to say much about this incident
because lawyers are involved, so he demurred fro offering a comment for this
But the upshot of this whole thing is that good care seems to be being sacrificed to push electronic medical records systems. This is happening across the country, too. We have hospital administrators driving hard to implement Obama's medical records solution -- such as the one called EPIC Systems being pushed by his medical records czar, Judith Faulkner. In an “epic” act of self-interest, Faulkner is also the CEO of EPIC Systems. And in so doing they are acing out excellent doctors whose only deficit is that they are not proficient with the new records technology.
Are we really willing to stand by as Obama's representatives
bully those good doctors that criticize these electronic medical records
systems? Are we willing to sacrifice good doctors for merely competent computer