State Hospital Medical Center has made headlines across the nation today by shutting its doors to human patients. Physicians will now spend 100% of their time taking care of e-patients.
According to hospital CEO Rosalyn Chen, this will involve sitting at computers with poorly functioning electronic medical records (EMRs) that take 5-10 minutes to load and typing long lists of vital signs, medications, and lab values that no one cares about. The computers will have specialized spongy pads on the sides of the screen so that doctors can occasionally bash their heads into them while waiting for the EMR to load without risk of concussion.
Chen said she came up with this idea when she realized how much her doctors were being distracted by real patients. “I would walk the halls of the wards and again and again I’d see physicians leave a note half finished to go do something completely frivolous like perform a physical exam or run a code blue. Think of the billing time that was being wasted!”
“It’s an ingenious move,” said Dr. Jeffrey Cappadorno, a hospitalist physician at a neighboring hospital. “Think of the money they’ll save. They can do away with beds, nurses, PT, OT, RT and sitters. In my practice I spend 18 hours a day on the e-patient and 6 on the human patient. If I could get rid of the humans completely I’d actually get to sleep for 6 hours!”
Before shutting the doors to human patients completely State Hospital tried a series of incentives to encourage doctors to spend more time at the computer and less time at the human patient’s bedside. The doctor with the longest note each week got a personalized Foley catheter to allow them to keep charting while urinating. Of note, coude catheters were excluded from the offer.
The doctor who logged the least time with actual human patients each week got a discount on a feeding tube placement to allow for mealtime to be spent on uninterrupted charting.
Unfortunately these incentives did not achieve 100% e-patient time. Chen said some of her doctors would still spend up to 5 or 10 minutes a day actually entering patient rooms. She said that’s when she knew she had to go all the way and ban humans patients completely.
Intern Stanley Jankowski was exuberant. While caressing his laptop case he told a reporter, “This is why I went to medical school. I never liked real people, but there’s something about typing up a med rec that just, well, feels right.”