When veteran-activists and officials within the Department of Defense (or DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (or VA) began to examine the best way to reduce their case backlogs and save money in the long-term, electronic health records seemed to be a worthwhile solution. Within each agency the electronic records have been a boon, but for them the sticking point seems to be getting their systems to talk to one another.
Thus, as a cost-saving measure in the 2009 stimulus act, a provision was inserted requiring that doctors and hospitals also switch to an electronic record-keeping system by 2014. However, the DoD and the VA are massive systems dealing with millions of potential patients. Only, what of the smaller practices? Would electronic records (and the costs of implementing such a system) help or hinder them?
In the case of Dr. Stephen Kiteck the answer is the latter, at least according to an ad he posted in his local paper. “Due to the policies of Obamacare,” the ad says, “Stephen Kiteck, MD will be closing his medical practice on December 31st, 2013.” Apparently unaware that this provision was not part of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, he admitted he and his staff are “computer illiterate.”
A picture of the ad was tweeted by Amanda Carpenter—speechwriter and senior communications advisor to Senator Ted Cruz—and since picked up by the press. Opposing Views reached out to Dr. Kiteck, but it seems he is no longer giving comments to the press. “We are being bombarded right now,” a spokesperson in his office said, “He’s not interested in making any more statements.” When Opposing Views offered to leave an e-mail address, the spokesperson said, laughing slightly, that Dr. Kiteck never uses e-mail.
During an appearance on Greta Van Sustren’s show last night, Dr. Kiteck said that the cost of implementing the electronic records system was a motivating factor in his decision to close down his office. When the host asked him about the program in place to reimburse doctors who make the change, he objected because the money came retroactively and in order to qualify the newly-installed systems must meet a number of criteria. He does not want to risk losing that money due to failing to comply with one of those regulations (and also “…if the program is still around”).
Still even without this provision, he would only have continued to practice for “four or five more years.” Van Sustren asked if other doctors in his community shared his concerns, and feeling completely free to speak for them, Dr. Kiteck said “I think so,” but admitted that most of his colleagues are making the investment in their practices. Van Sustren never mentioned (or was also unaware) that the electronics record provision was not part of Obamacare. Also, one must wonder if any business that seems so resistant to technology could possibly survive as others it works with—in this case hospitals, insurers, and patients themselves—embrace it. It seems that Dr. Kiteck isn’t closing his practice because of Obamacare, but from an overall unwillingness to adapt to a changing marketplace.