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Medicine DRM The Almighty Buck United Kingdom IT Science

Man Charged £2,000 For Medical Records Stored On Obsolete System 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the boy-that-costs-a-ton dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In Britain, where it is custom and practice to charge around £10 for a copy of your medical results, a patient has discovered that his copy will cost him £2,000 because the records are stored on an obsolete system that the current IT systems cannot access. Can this be good for patient care if no-one can access records dating back from a previous filing system? Perhaps we need to require all current systems to store data in a way that is vendor independent, and DRM-free, too?"
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Man Charged £2,000 For Medical Records Stored On Obsolete System

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  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @04:47PM (#41912239)

    >> A statement from the trust (Britain's single payer health care system) said: "The trust does have the visual data on file but the cost of generating an image from what is now obsolete technology is not a cost effective use of public money.

    Good thing there's no chance of the US going to a single-payer system...er...am I right?

  • Re:What a fuckup (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @05:20PM (#41912621)

    An unfortunate sideaffect of the publicly funded NHS.

    The NHS gets stuck in the middle with the public wanting free healthcare but without paying higher taxes, and with the costs of healthcare increasing due to larger aging population and the higher costs of newer diagnosis/treatments (MRI machines etc). So politicians can never set their budget as high as they want, because to do so they need to put taxes up.

    But we at least are all guaranteed free healthcare even if circumstances mean we can't afford to pay for it (eg because we're too ill to work).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @05:34PM (#41912813)

    I work for a large company that develops medical record database software, so this is kinda my thing.

    We refuse to allow even qualified local database/IT consultants touch anything in the database. A single update or delete statement ran on the live database invalidates their support contact if we wish. That's not to say the whole .db file is proprietary, we (begrudgingly) allow third party companies to access the database to pull email/reminder information. Or, in the case of the pharmaceutical companies: Client Name, address, phone number, invoices and prescriptions. Because you know, marketing. Ironically, it was this step - selling data to other companies, that finally put our division in the black. It's kinda nice not having to worry about HIPAA (veterinary industry).

    We provide the conversions from almost all of our competitors and our legacy products. Conversion costs depend on what is converted, such as ONLY medical records, or billing history too? Images? Reminders? Inventory history? It can get pricey, sure, but that is the cost of the switch. Most of the time, conversions is only a small part of the cost of transitioning, the cost of retraining the staff is usually more than the software and hardware itself.

  • Re:What a fuckup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday November 07, 2012 @07:39PM (#41914095)

    , assuming that they can't work out a payment plan.

    bankruptcy being a more and more common 'payment plan'.

    If I can't afford to pay, the hospital has to write it off as a loss

    You mean what you said

    In which case everybody else has to pay for it.

    Hospitals don't have some magic source of money. They are, ultimately, insured by the government against losses incurred treating people who go to the emergency room. Now the trick here is that they aren't owned by the government (as in the NHS system) so their incentive is to get as much money from you, or from the government as possible. In the NHS system their objective is to do find the optimal balance between spending and demonstrable health outcomes.

    Hospitals in the US are first and foremost interested in their bottom line. Health is a means to make money like any other business, you want to do it just well enough you can get paid, and you do the minimum required for regulatory compliance. The UK system is fundamentally different, because the owners of the hospital (the public) are also their customers, and politicians like an issue they can get behind in the UK as much as in the US, so if you don't have demonstrable benefit for the cost in the UK you're in trouble. In the US as long as you can get paid for a cost, whether it provides any benefit or not is all that matters.

  • by DoctorOz (2770019) on Thursday November 08, 2012 @02:32AM (#41916233)
    Let me preface this by saying I'm a medical practitioner, and I read the story He has a written report of he cardiac ultrasound, and he has a written report of it. The data he wants are the 'still images' of his ultrasound. An ultrasound is a live, dynamic test that looks at the heart as it moves, its not like an xray or CT where a single image gives you the data you want. While single images are often recorded (mostly medico-legially I believe), at the end of the day, he wants to compare some still images from his cardiac ultrasound taken 10 years ago to the images taken recently. Not worth doing, exceeding rare that 'any' useful comparison could be made. I agree there is no need to store TB's of data for ultrasounds, though the fact that they still have it is interesting in itself!

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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