Two Dirty Little Secrets About Electronic Health Records

Epic Systems, a privately-held company, is the largest provider of EHRs. Most of the big medical centers, including all of the top 10 academic medical centers in the US, use Epic. Like many other EHR companies, Epic requires hospitals and physicians to sign a non-dispargement agreement, or “gag” clause. In fact, Epic doesn’t even allow its hospitals and physicians to publish screen shots of its software in use.Think about that for a second: Epic users– including a large percentage of the leading physicians in the country– are legally forbidden to criticize their EHR or even share images of how it works…

Bob Wachter, a leading doctor at UCSF, recently wrote about a case in which a young patient nearly died after receiving a massive overdose of an antibiotic. The incident was caused in large part by the poor design and interface of the Epic system. Wachter needed to obtain permission from the CEO of Epic to reproduce screenshots to tell the story. Wachter, who was recently named Modern Healthcare’s most influential physician in 2015, would not have been able to fully tell this important story without the permission of Epic…

Instead, the primary goal of EHRs is to make sure that healthcare providers receive maximum reimbursement and to provide data to executives to help them “manage” their workers and their systems…

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