As we age we have more medical appointments and so my calendar is full of them. Appointments today are nothing like in the past. Thanks to the Novel Corona Virus everything is complicated. And each provider’s office has a different way of approaching safe environments for patients. Some work and some confuse.
I’ve had two virtual appointments where I can see and converse with my provider on screen. Providers use various platforms with names like “Blue Jeans” and “Ring Central.” Some require the use of nine digit numbers and symbols, some have you to sign in to a virtual waiting room, which means you wait for them to be ready for you and one had me to read and sign a HIPPA document. Life would sure be simpler if they all used one system.
I thought in-person visits would be simpler, but I’ve now had two of those and they were complicated as well. One office had me to wait in the car until they texted me to enter the building. The immunologist came into the exam room wearing a full hazmat suit and we talked. It could have easily and safely been done virtually.
The most important in-person visit was with my oncologist. Entering the professional building my temperature was taken along with my name. Then a detailed interview was performed to determine if I was at risk for COVID. At this point, wearing my favorite personal mask I was allowed to enter the elevator and proceed to my physician’s office suite. Exiting the elevator I followed directional stickers on the floor placed at six foot intervals. Eventually I reached the admission office where they took one look at my pretty mask with the Mercedes logo and told me to remove it and wear one of theirs. Of course I did as I was told. The visit continued with lab work and consultation and I was discharged one hour and forty minutes later.
I’ve sure you have had similar experiences regardless of what country you call home. I don’t care for this new normal, but I do appreciate all the attention to safe procedures.
“I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away.” George Carlin
HIPAA – To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, included Administrative Simplification provisions that required HHS to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and code sets, unique health identifiers, and security. At the same time, Congress recognized that advances in electronic technology could erode the privacy of health information. Consequently, Congress incorporated into HIPAA provisions that mandated the adoption of Federal privacy protections for individually identifiable health information.
What does HIPAA mean to you? To me, it has always meant privacy of my confidential information relative to healthcare. I do remember when HIPAA was passed in 1996 and that it was comprehensive reform of many things other than patient privacy. Back then I was still in the provider/payor role in health care. Today I am just a consumer and I am appalled by the lack of privacy and security of information.
A few days ago I walked into the waiting room of one of my doctors and the person behind the desk asked me piece by piece for the following information:
Your phone number?
Your date of birth?
Does anyone see a problem here? The only identifying information left out for the dozen or so people in the waiting area to hear was my Social Security number. How is this privacy? How was my information secure?
While I’m at it, have you not been told all your life to never sign any document without reading it first? OK, I know we won’t read every word of every page, but shouldn’t we at least SEE the document we are asked to sign? Maybe glance at the title?
Does your doctor’s office or other medical facility have one of these little gadgets? Most of mine do now and I’m asked to sign this Topaz thingy three to five times with each encounter. If I ask, “What am I signing?”, I’m told, but I do not see the document. This may seem like a small thing, but it is very bad business and I wonder how it stands up in court? “Your Honor I do not recall signing a Consent for Treatment” or “When did I sign an agreement to pay? I only signed the little Topaz machine when told, your Honor.”
There are also iPad versions of this process which gather a new patient’s medical history, demographics and consents. These at least show the form being signed and one can see one’s own signature on that form via the screen.
Sorry, I’ve forgotten, but I am sure it is just as important and I’ll get back to you.
“Healthcare is becoming part of information technology.” Bill Maris
Would you like an entertaining, easy-reading book? If you have an interest in medicine and if you love the Smokey Mountains, you’ll definitely enjoy “Medicine Men” by Carolyn Jourdan. Ms. Jourdan is a sophisticated Wall Street Journal bestselling author, who apparently never forgot her mountain roots. Her father was an “extreme Appalachian” doctor and she tells his stories as well as those of many other such physicians who she interviews. It is a fun read which made me want to return to the Smokies for a visit.
I heartily recommend this book which can easily be read in a day. As simple and funny as the stories are they stimulate thought regarding profound subjects and questions.
“Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.” John Ruskin
Maybe it’s my recent milestone birthday, but I keep looking back. Please walk with me as I recall some things of years past.
Do You Remember When?
Gas stations were Service Stations? The attendant checked your oil and cleaned your windshield as well as pumping your gas. I remember my Dad driving into the station and requesting “A dollar’s worth please!” That was approximately three gallons back then.
There was one vehicle per family rather than per driver?
Funeral homes provided ambulance service?
Doctors made routine house calls?
Horses were used to farm?
Babies were born at home?
The deceased were “laid out” at home? That was before the parlor became a “living” room.
Farm homes had smokehouses? They were not for smokers of cigarettes and cigars. They were for preserving (smoking) and then storing meat for the table.
You didn’t own a computer?
You learned to used email?
Your phone wasn’t in your pocket?
You didn’t know who was calling until they spoke?
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey