County health doctors air complaints about their new [EPIC] EMR system

Matthias Gafni | Contra Costa Times | September 19, 2012

MARTINEZ -- One of every 10 emergency room patients at the county's public hospitals in September left without ever being seen by a doctor or nurse because of long waits -- a number rising since implementation of Contra Costa's $45 million computer system July 1. One patient waited 40 hours to get a bed.

Dr. Brenda Reilly delivered the troubling news Tuesday afternoon to county supervisors. She was one of three dozen doctors in the supervisors' chamber complaining about EPIC, new computer software aimed at integrating all of the county's health departments to create a federally mandated electronic medical record for patients.

To allow for the major computer program installation and conversion, administrators cut doctors' patient loads in half, in turn cutting the number of available appointments in half. In a letter to the supervisors, Dr. Ori Tzvieli -- medical staff president whose union has been negotiating a new contract with the county -- along with 14 doctor co-signers pleaded for administrators to continue scaling back physician workloads because doctors are over-stressed. Six doctors have left this year, said Dr. Keith White, a 22-year pediatrician...

Open Health News' Take: 

Making the transition from paper based systems to implementation of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems is not easy.  However, thousands of physician offices, clinics, and hospitals have completed the transition or or in various stages of the implementation process. There are a lot of reports on 'lessons learned', 'best practices', cost/benefits, open source alternatives, and more. Open Health News (OHN) has gathered links to many of these reports, white papers, and studies and posted them under the Publications Section of the OHN web site.  - Peter Groen, Senior Editor, OHN