About two weeks ago, e-patient Dave sent me a link to his blog post about his Google Health information sucked out of the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. It finally made the Boston Globe this morning.
Here’s the problem. Each and every piece of multi, multi-million dollar bloated piece of crap healthcare “electronic medical record” (sounds about as dated as electronic mail, doesn’t it?”), is simply a billing engine to communicate a medical diagnosis to insurance companies with the hopes of maximizing how much doctors are paid. Each diagnosis and procedure has these numerical codes. They are a ridiculously robust antiquated language, like the code written to power the Commodore 64. There are people who speak this language - the 100 or so medical billers who are holed up in the basement of every hospital. They are the people you never see when you visit the hospital, but they’re the ones speaking the language that maximizes how much your hospital gets from your insurance company.
And now Google wants you to have access to this coded language that you, nor your doctors, speak. The assumption is that this will empower consumers and drive advertising revenue to Google based on these medical codes. And then you log in to Google Health and see a language that’s impossible to interpret and, most of the time, simply inaccurate. But these are your medical records found in one of the highest ranking hospitals in America.
What good does having access to Commodore 64 language in today’s world of Amazon, Zipcar, Tumblr, and Facebook?
Of course, the equivalent of Google Translator could possibly be built, but then again, if not properly translated and you died because of an improper translation, who is responsible? Google? Your doctor? The hospital? The billing department?
Insurance billing codes were never designed to influence our decisions as doctors. They were only designed for this ancient billing technique the Feds mandate upon doctors.
It blows my mind to see the depth of how screwed up our health care system is…we, the doctors and patients, were never meant to be a part of it. The leeches, the big players that run the most profitable and fastest growing business in America, health care, have designed it from the ground up to maximize their own profits, without regard to benefiting society.
It’s a crime of the highest level. People’s lives are at stake all over our country. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying across America every year because of medical errors, lack of access to good information, and using technology that wasn’t designed for communication, but instead designed to speak billing language. And many docs are still writing on paper, while the leeches are laughing about it in Palm Beach. And when Google tries to do something good for health care, they’re squashed by an industry that has insulated itself so perfectly even from the threats of Google.
Google, please give up. You’re only wasting your time.