I thought I'd start the week off right, get up early, have a cup of coffee, and get prepared for the week ahead, Little did I know what was in store for me when I checked my e-mail.
Margaret Polaneczky, MD (aka, @tbtam the incredibly bright OB-GYN of The Blog That Ate Manhatan fame) had left a comment on my last post suggesting I check out my profile on the CMS's Physician Compare website.
What I found was so discouraging, so demoralizing, so indicative of what we can expect from our newly-contructed computer databases compiled by a Central Authority without its own quality assurance checks, that every US doctor and patient should demand an immediate halt to what we're creating until the developers of this mess can prove they can get it right.
You see, according to the government's database, I'm not a cardiac electrophysiologist.
That's right. I do not practice cardiac electrophysiology and never have. Instead, I am just a general cardiologist. Never mind that I have searchable credentials and billings to prove it.
And if that's not enough, according to the same database, I have offices in 254 locations (I'm not kidding). Something as simple as my vocation and office locations are already completely screwed up.
And that is not even the half of it.
Mark Hamer, MD, whom I replaced at our facility in 2001 and has practices in Rochester, NY since then, is still listed as working here in Chicago. John Alexander, MD, a prominent cardiothoracic surgeon at our facility? He's retired now and no longer sees patients. Yet there they are: fully credentialled and, according to our government's CMS physician finder database, working from the same 254 offices that I work in.
According to Dr. Polaneczky, I can expect it will take at least a 6-months to correct these errors on the CMS database. (And, if you'd like some ocean-front property in Arizona, I can sell you that, too.)
I am so screwed.
But as bad as it is for me, I'm not the only one who's screwed, am I? You see, if this is as good as the government can get at culling their vast repository of information collected by hoards of coders, billers, and legions of other non-medical folk upon whom they entrust to get the data right, we are in trouble in many more ways than this. One only has to imagine the issues that arise when our government regulators turn to similarly-contructed databases to make life-and-death payment decisions. We ALL had better reconsider the wisdom of our complete reliance on such unverified databases going forward.
One thing is now perfectly clear: just because our government health care regulators have all this quality assurance and billing data at their disposal, they have no earthly idea how to use it correctly.