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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 6/1/23

June 1, 2023 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

Midwestern health systems BJC Healthcare and Saint Luke’s (Kansas City) have announced plans to join through a $10 billion merger. They have been previously connected through participation in the BJC Collaborative, which Saint Luke’s joined in 2012 as the organizations sought to share resources and cut costs.

Announcements from the organizations note plans to operate under their existing brands and operate from headquarters in both St. Louis and Kansas City. Detailed plans for the merger are slated to unfold through the rest of the year, with a goal of closing the deal by the end of the year. I reached out to some Midwestern friends who know both organizations well and it sounds like there may be some significant cultural differences that come into play. It should be an interesting one to watch.

I receive dozens of cold call emails every day despite my best efforts to filter them into junk mail or spam folders. My favorite of the week was one that gave three different stylistic treatments to the healthcare entitlement program for seniors: MediCare, MediCARE, and ultimately Medicare. Maybe their marketing team will eventually create a style guide so that they can remain consistent, but since I made use of the block sender functionality, I hopefully won’t be seeing it again.

I don’t practice as often as I used to, but when I do, there’s always a patient who asks about something they saw on the internet and how it might relate to their reason for seeking medical care. A recent Forbes article discusses data that more than a third of members of Generation Z trust TikTok more than doctors. It’s not the only player in the equation – another 44% of adults surveyed visit YouTube before contacting their physician. One in five respondents trust health influencers more than they trust medical professionals, citing access, cost, and avoiding judgment from medical professionals.

The article goes on to emphasize the need for care providers to meet patients where they are. I agree with that approach. I’ve not seen many mainstream health organizations fine tuning their social media sites to go after that demographic, but I’ll keep an eye out. There is plenty of medical misinformation out there that needs to be countered, but competing against influencers might be an uphill battle.

For health systems and other organizations that are trying to build their brands (and often renaming themselves in the process), they might want to target older demographics. A recent article notes that members of Generation X and Baby Boomers are twice as likely to trust brands than members of Generation Z. Topping that brand list and possibly providing inspiration for marketers: Band-Aid, UPS, Amazon, Lysol, and Kleenex followed by Cheerios, Visa, Dove, The Weather Channel, and FedEx. The survey noted that Generation Z doesn’t trust many brands to do the right thing – non-profit brands were the only category to which it responded well. I tried to poll a couple of the members of Generation Z about the topic, but hit a dead end because they were heads-down on their phones.


I have a visit later this week with a new physician who is part of the medical group where I’m already established. I was relieved to receive an electronic check-in notice through the patient portal. My previous physician left the practice for health reasons, but I’ve been a patient in both the practice and its database since 2019 (and in its precursor, which was converted, for a decade prior) so it should have been smooth sailing.

I completed the electronic check-in and was met with a notice that “you might be asked to complete additional paperwork in the office,” which jogged my memory that indeed they had mailed me a packet six months prior. I found it in the file sorter on my desk and was dismayed to find that it contained four pages of materials that are redundant to my existing chart, including the pharmacy information and medication list that I just confirmed during the electronic check-in process. When I scheduled the appointment, I made it clear that I was transferring from her former partner. Since I’ve been seen within the past three years by a physician of the same subspecialty who bills under the same tax ID, I’m technically an established patient even though I’m new to her. I assume they send the “new patient” paperwork to everyone, but it’s still disheartening.

No one wants to arrive at the office and be turned away because they don’t have the (totally unnecessary) paperwork, so here I sit filling out information when I’m 100% confident that it’s all in the chart already, because I’ve seen it in my past visit notes. The real kicker was when I arrived at page four and found the “physical examination do not write below this line” section, where presumably the physician (who has a multi-million-dollar EHR) will not be documenting my exam because her contract requires her to use said EHR if she wants to get her annual bonus. I helped institute those contracts in a past life, and according to my former colleagues, they are still in place, so that should make for a fun conversation when I get to my appointment. The photocopies themselves are no longer crisp and are marked by smears from repeated copying, which is just sad.

Getting to the end of the paperwork, I realized that it didn’t even ask for some of the key elements of my history that are important to the topic of the upcoming visit, as well as being critically important for a physician in that subspecialty regardless of whether they’re a topic of this specific visit or not. As a physician, I know this is a big deal, but many patients might not volunteer that information if the physician doesn’t specifically ask for it.

Based on the paperwork and the pre-visit experience, I’m not confident of what to expect from this visit. For an organization that is worried about patient experience and their patient satisfaction ratings, I’ll be sure to give appropriate feedback when the inevitable survey arrives in my inbox. If they’re interested in some management consulting and EHR optimization, I might just know someone.

What’s the most frustrating healthcare IT-related issue you encounter as a patient? Leave a comment or email me.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. >What’s the most frustrating healthcare IT-related issue you encounter as a patient?

    Lack of open scheduling and other patient self-service tools. Epic is used as the EMR at essentially every primary care in my region. And yet I cannot do any Open Scheduling. It is embarrassing how little some of these orgs and offices get out of MyChart.

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