Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My NYT Letter

The March 6 issue of The New York Times carried an Op-Ed piece by pediatrician Anne Armstrong-Cohen, M.D.. It was titled The Computer Will See You Now. Its theme, in essence, was a complaint by the doctor that she had been required to use a computer in her practice and that she found it less than helpful.

I responded with a letter to the Editor, which was accepted for publication and appeared today (March 11) in the Web version of the Times along with several others on the same subject. (I don’t know if it appeared in the print version.)

The text of the letter as it appeared in the Times is as follows:

“Dr. Anne Armstrong-Cohen’s story is a cautionary tale. It illustrates why most of the $17 billion in President Obama’s stimulus package for promoting electronic medical records will add to the cost of care, not reduce it.

Dr. Armstrong-Cohen is applying the computer to a method of pediatric practice that has been in effect from time immemorial. The cost of computers has been added to the cost of her practice without, it seems, improving her efficiency.

What she ought to be doing is thinking up a new, better and less expensive way to provide health care to children that is practical only with computers and then get someone to develop a program to support it. Not being a pediatrician, I would not presume to suggest what that way might be, but I’m sure it is out there waiting to be discovered.”

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