This week I had one more realization of how our health care system is so broken.
I am starting service with a new clinic and they emailed me an Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information form to complete. This will give my old clinic permission to send my records to my new clinic. The new clinic is only requesting records from 9/1/2015 to present which is a pretty small amount of information I believe, since I rarely go to the doctor.
Anyway, so I completed the form and scanned it in and emailed it back to the address from which it came. I got a return error…
Apparently, this was a no-response email address.
So I called the clinic… first to listen to their answering machine and then again days later when the office was open again as they don’t allow you to leave a message so they can get back to you when they have time. You just have to call when the office is open. You still have to listen to a message when you call but if you sit patiently for a while, your call “will be answered in the order in which it was received”.
The gal who answered the phone was not the same one to whom I spoke previously and who sent me the form. This new gal said I could fax it and I explained that I don’t have a fax machine. She asked if I wanted to mail it and I said, “No, I’d like to send it electronically, the same way you sent it to me, so you have it right away and can get the ball rolling. I’d imagine your office has an email address to which these kinds of documents can be sent. This is the 21st century after all.” OK, I know that last part was not really necessary but, for God’s sake, shouldn’t our medical clinics HAVE and USE the latest technology?
She let me know that the person who sent the letter would typically handle it. So I asked if she could give me her email address. She then reluctantly and slowly (because she doesn’t know it by heart) gave me HER OWN email address at the clinic. I sent the document and she said, “Yep, it looks like I got it. I’ll print it out and fax it to where it needs to go.”
So, yes, in trying to work electronically, the clinic will still use a piece of paper to print this document and THEN, generate another piece of fax paper – are we really still use these things??? – to get the job done. Why couldn’t she simply forward my message to the gal’s email who had originally worked with me? Better yet, why didn’t she have that person’s email to provide to me directly?
No wonder health care is so expensive. This is a lot of steps and I imagine there is some kind of scanning that will then be done to keep a record of the document. Which could all have been avoided if they simply knew how to use electronically emailed documents in the first place!
I really thought that the ACA was going to help all clinics go electronic, not only for this kind of communication, but also for sending records from one clinic to another. With this antiquated system still in use, I’m guessing that my paper records may still be in transit when I arrive for my appointment later this month.