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Can't we all just get along?

July 10, 2009
by stacey
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And if we can’t, can’t we just talk to each other? Let’s just say I have a friend who had been trying to get a physician’s office to do some paperwork in regards to getting approval for a special medication. Let’s just say then, for argument’s sake, that after taking nearly two months to do so, said office finally completed the task. And yes, the clinician’s staff is likely overworked and underpaid. And while to err is human, what followed wasn’t. You see, the staff member who finally completed the necessary paperwork used made a few clerical errors (three of them) by using old and outdated patient information. The patient’s insurance provider (the plan had terminated six months prior and the patient had a new policy with another company), the patient’s phone number (which had changed two years earlier) and the patient’s home address (as the apartment number was omitted). And while to err is human, what transpired wasn’t. You see the correct data was there — somewhere. It had to be. The patient’s updated insurance company was picking up the tab, the patient was receiving phone calls from the physician’s assistant to reschedule appointments, and the patient was receiving correspondence at home regarding missed co-pays. I’m not suggesting that people stop making mistakes in their day-to-day lives, what I am is that HIT systems not function in silos. If the data is there in one way or another, it must be easily located so that staff members can execute their jobs effectively because it really does matter.

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Stacey Kramer is Managing Editor of Healthcare Informatics. She writes feature stories and...