Last week I went to see my primary care physician. I had not been to the office in quite a while. All of our recent “interaction” consisted of phone-in prescription refills only. I really didn’t think it had been THAT long since I visited…but shortly after I got there it indeed felt like I was a first-timer.
Moments after being received at reception, I was ushered into the brave new world of electronic medical records (also known as the learning curve of the century for those in the health care profession any reasonable amount of time).
Now it appears we lucky patients can quickly access our most intimate medical details on the Internet…in the Cloud…who knows where they’re actually kept?
Of course, one person who likely knows is that lady or gentleman in Kazakhstan who already has most or all of our credit card information.
Anyway, after being introduced to how even my smart phone can make me smarter as far as seeing my medical “chart,” refilling prescriptions, making future appointments etc. via this grand, historic advancement in technology… it was time for the ever-still-predictable and familiar weigh-in.
I always have wondered why the weigh-in at the doctor’s office isn’t done in one’s underwear. That’s how we did it in high school when getting physicals before playing sports. Yes, an exact measurement seemed to be quite important in youth. Apparently, accuracy is not quite so important in our adult medical evaluations because I have always been weighed in addition to whatever was hanging off me when I entered. I could go in wrapped in a dozen mink coats and no one would bat an eye as I step onto the scale.
This particular day I had on a heavy jacket, jeans…and sneakers that probably weigh three pounds all by themselves.
Their scale subsequently said I was 235 pounds, a robust ten pounds more than my scale at home advises me I am…in my underwear.
I know what you’re thinking. No, I have not “adjusted” my home instrument to better suit my feelings. It’s legit. I mean, maybe it hasn’t been calibrated in the last year nor does it sport a calibration sticker like some lab instrument might – at the doctor’s office, for example? – but I have no reason to doubt its sincerity and ability to accurately calculate my current weight.
That “rustic” scale at the doctor’s office I’ve been hopping on all these years looks like it moonlights on weekend’s at the cattle farm. I’ve never trusted it to get my actual weight correct anymore than the process of being fully clothed while being weighed.
I have been proud to say even in recent years I still only pack 225 pounds on my six-foot, two-inch frame. That makes me (at almost 54 years old) still equivalent measurement-wise to say…an NFL linebacker.
And aside from once more having my incorrect weight on file at the doctor’s office, this injustice would now also become part of my electronic medical records for all the world to see…even in Kazakhstan.
After seeing my doctor (who typed in the results of our conversation rather than use her trusted pen and paper files enlisted in all prior meetings), I headed home to sign up for access to my electronic medical records and see how this would make life easier for me going forward. I was advised the records were not “retroactive” and would only include information from when they first started the system. Fine. I still wanted to see what it looked like…indeed my visit that day was for a chronic condition which had no significant update. Nonetheless, I was curious to see how this first visit with the doctor was written out…what my “chart” said, etc.
Everything looked to be pretty much in order and representative of my time there…as well as the info on those prior refills between the time the office went “on-line” and the time of my first visit there after the fact…except of course for the very troubling matter I was shown to be 235 pounds. That in itself bugged me…until I read further on.
Apparently, the medical community’s embracing of the dreaded Body Mass Index is also part of my electronic medical records now…the resulting calculation of which broadcasts I am, of course…obese.
Not that those “minus ten pounds” in my underwear would have made any appreciable difference. At 225 pounds, according to this criminal conclusion I still come in right around…being way too round.
Some folks say electronic medical records are a good thing. Paper records and files are susceptible to fire or flood. True, but haven’t we all known of situations where electronic data hasn’t “taken” or mysteriously vanished? What if someone working a tad too fast hits the “Delete” key on your 2011 lab results, for example? Another alleged plus is with all the mumbo-jumbo jargon used in the medical community, complimented by the fact absolutely no one in the profession can write in a legible manner, having all this information typed out will now ensure fewer errors. Yeah, right. When was the last time you relied on Spell Check before hitting the “Send” button? (Wait, you STILL do…?!)
One thing I will agree with is doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals will be using less paper, printers, printing supplies, etc. That being said, are those disposable product savings really comparable to having to buy all the required software, equipment and space (virtual or otherwise) for electronic storage? Not to mention the cost to eventually “tie” all of these medical communities together so any doctor anywhere can see ALL of your information, not just that which was compiled in their system?
And of course, there’s the doomsday scenario where you or I are whisked into the emergency room and no one can access any of our electronic medical records at all because a circuit breaker popped in the hospital cafeteria. Hopefully, those folks rushing to set up new ways of keeping us all better served are building redundancies in servers so our records are truly available 24/7…even in Kazakhstan.
While I remain a tad uneasy about my medical history being compiled for all to view with but a few keystrokes, what really has my blood boiling is this BMI thingy. Clearly, the Body Mass Index was created with Paris runway models as the model and we all get to “work down” to those measurements. This thing is unjustly based on stick figures, not real figures. I have as much chance of getting to my ideal BMI as I do becoming a doctor. And now, everyone who reads my electronic medical records believes I’m obese…even in Kazakhstan.
Then again, maybe I could become my own doctor. I can type. I know how to use a computer.
I even know how to weigh someone. Properly.
In their underwear.