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Buyer Beware

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This discusses reports of a vendor cutting off access to medical records by physicians and tells of ways to avoid this problem.

Recent Article

Legal issue arises over electronic patient files

South Florida Business Journal - September 8, 2006

by Brian Bandell

There's a federal push to digitize health care records, but experts are worried over allegations that a Boca Raton company cut some doctors' access to electronic patient files after they failed to pay fees.

It turns out there is no current law that would stop a software vendor from doing so, federal and state agency officials say. The laws that cover patient privacy and access to records apply to health care workers, not third-party vendors.

That has left an unclear legal recourse for five doctors who claim Boca Raton-based Dr. Notes cut off their access to medical records of dozens of patients because they wouldn't pay higher tech support fees.

"It should be illegal for a company to withhold data from a doctor so a patient can't get their care," said Dr. Joseph M. Heyman, a board member of the American Medical Association (AMA). Aside from the allegations about Dr. Notes, Heyman, said he has never heard of an electronic medical records vendor cutting off access to a doctor. The AMA doesn't have a policy to deal with the situation.

Dr. Kenneth W. Goodman, director of the bioethics program at the University of Miami, says, "If any patient comes to grief over this, then society will have dropped the ball."

In an e-mail, Dr. Notes CEO Angel M. Garcia disputed the doctors' assertions of a cutoff, saying they can still view patients' records if they don't pay support fees; they just can't enter new data or print it out.

However, the five doctors insisted they could not view any data at all. Former Dr. Notes tech support specialist Ray Causwell, who now consults with doctors who use the program, agreed with their accounts.

Garcia and ex-employees have said Dr. Notes sold its software to more than 5,000 doctors nationwide. Some doctors say the program works just fine and they have a password that doesn't change every month.

In May, some doctors using Dr. Notes said they received requests for higher tech support payments from a company called Intracare, which said it bought the international rights to the software. State records show Intracare is based in Garcia's Delray Beach home and its CEO is his wife. On April 7, two creditors obtained a writ from a Palm Beach Circuit Court judge to seize the software's patent, copyright license and source code, which was collateral for a $280,000 loan to Dr. Notes. On Aug. 28, the company was ordered to turn over documents to help the creditors obtain the intellectual property and its associated contracts.

This is scary to anyone who gets an EMR via ASP.  ASP is "Application service provider" and is where the program is housed on the server of the company.  The upside to this is that it reduces start-up cost and hardware requirements.  All you need is a good internet connection (which you probably have if you are reading this).

The problem is that you are at the mercy of the company who you are working with.  In this case, you must pay the support fees or you lose functionality (or even possibly ability to view).  This is a serious problem and should be well-understood up front when you buy your EMR system.  This is, to a lesser degree, a problem with non ASP vendors as well.  If you do not pay the support fees, you lose upgrades and help if you have a "down" situation.  This is why you need to know the nature of the company you are dealing with.

Abide by the old rule: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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from InsureBlog on Wed, 09/13/2006 - 5:32am

Dr Rob Lamberts, writing at The Medical Blog Network, has some disturbing news about physicians' access to their patients' EMR's (Electronic Medical Records). Apparently, a number of physicians (and, presumably, other providers) electronically offloa...

Comments (4)

Submitted by Marc on Tue, 09/12/2006 - 1:25pm.

Since when has the first priority of our healthcare system been to help the sick? 

That might be true, but only after the point at which it has managed to squeeze the last dollar from the suffering of those in need of healthcare.

I know, I'm probably way too cynical for my own good, but I will admit there are exceptions to every rule! :)

Marc
MLKashinsky.com

Submitted by Medical Practice FAQ on Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:38am.

This is a clear case of extortion and Dr. Notes should be made an example to ensure this never happens again. Doctors have to take oaths to put the patients needs first-maybe the entire healthcare industry needs to be held to the same standards.

Charles

www.infrahealth.com

 

Submitted by Dr. Rob Lamberts on Thu, 09/14/2006 - 10:54am.

READ YOUR CONTRACT BEFORE SIGNING.

It's always good to have a "pre-nup"

Rob

Augusta, GA

New Websites:

Musings of a Distractible Mind

Ambulatorycomputing.com

 

Submitted by fcarreno on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 6:33pm.

My name is Fernando Carreno M.D. I have been sued by H-P (Hewlett-Packard) financing as a result of the lease agreement I entered into regarding the purchase of my Dr. Notes equipment and EMR. I have filed a cross-claim against H-P as a result of their purchase of the Doctor Notes financing agreements and financing of Dr. Notes EMR.  Without H-P, Dr. Notes would not have been able to perpetrate this fraud on myself and others.

If you are interested in joining me in my suit against H-P contact me at fcarreno@pol.net or 1201 Ocean drive,Corpus Christi,Texas  78404 or call 361-884-1133 with your information and I will forward it to my attorney.

Hopefully,together we can see that justice is done in regards to this matter.

 

                                                                                                   Very truly yours,

                                                                                                     Fernando Carreno



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