Patient on a ComputerAs the layers of the affordable care act continue to unfold, doctors are asked to do even more work to satisfy government regulations and spend less time seeing patients. The latest is the requirement for a patient to use a internet portal. The idea being that patients will have acces to their personal medical information directly. Great idea – but should doctors be penalized if a patient doesn’t use it?

A physician practice is required to show that a patient is not only allowed access to the portal, but must prove the patient has opened an email from my office, activated their account and signed in to the portal. The government encouragement of this is to take away a portion of medicare payments whose patients don’t use it. If the patient does not log in, I will not meet ‘meaningful use’.

How many patients will actually do this? I have patients that do not own a computer, or do not want a computer. What do I tell my 84 year old woman (on medicare) with a knee replacement to do? A colleague has hold me he plans to hire high school students, give them iPads and have them sit in the lobby and help (force) patients to log in. This will not do anything to improve their care but rather satisfy the Affordable Care Act alone to avoid a penalty.
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I fully embrace technology in medicine: I’m writing this blog aren’t i? As the government digs deeper into the practice of creating healthcare policy, my practice is more disrupted, forcing me to hire people to perform tasks that do not improve care, and side-track me further from caring for my patients.