- Seventy-five year-old Jeffrey B. Johnson, MD, is being forced to stop seeing patients at Illinois-based Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center after refusing to participate in mandatory EHR use training, according to Daily Herald.
Since starting his career as an obstetrician in 1965, Johnson estimated he has delivered more than 14,000 babies.
"I've delivered more babies than any other obstetrician in the Northwest suburbs,” Johnson told Daily Herald. “I'm good.”
Johnson said he has received hundreds of thank you notes and photographs of healthy babies from past patients and coworkers throughout his career. However, he has been asked to leave St. Alexius following the medical center’s recent EHR implementation.
"Dr. Johnson has had a long and distinguished career with Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center, and we greatly appreciate everything he has done for our patients, their families and our community," said Amita Health St. Alexius Medical Center President and CEO Len Wilk.
Despite Johnson’s known success as an obstetrician, medical center officials had to let him go based on the organization’s commitment to implementing and utilizing EHR technology across all facilities. The hospital mandates that all clinicians and hospital staff engage in EHR use as part of a system-wide initiative intended to reduce medical errors, boost care quality, and improve patient safety across the continuum of care.
“Because Amita Health is committed to delivering the highest-quality care and ensuring patient safety, we require all of our practitioners to receive training in the use of our new EMR platform for ordering and documenting clinical care,” emphasized Wilk.
Johnson began delivering care at St. Alexius when it first opened in 1979. He also served as chairman of the medical center’s OB/GYN department.
In addition to St. Alexius, Johnson has also practiced medicine at hospitals in Elk Grove Village and Arlington Heights, as well as in his own private practice.
Over the course of his 50-year career, Johnson has attracted a large base of loyal patients.
"People look at me like I'm nuts when I say I go to a 70-something man, but they don't know Dr. Johnson," said Elizabeth Stamps, mother of five and long-time patient of Johnson’s. "Whether it was delivering my babies or helping me through two miscarriages, he was absolutely incredible. I can't imagine going anywhere else."
Though he can no longer deliver care at St. Alexius, he will continue to practice medicine independently.
"I think it's the most important job in medicine, and I love it," said Johnson. "I just can't practice anymore at our hospital because I don't know how to use the computer efficiently."
Johnson’s story is not unique — many clinicians and independent practices reluctant to engage in EHR use have been forced out of an increasingly digitized and data-driven healthcare system.
Last year, New Hampshire-based family physician Anna M. Konopka, MD, was forced to forfeit her medical license after refusing to implement an EHR system.
The New Hampshire Board of Medicine announced that the 85-year old solo practitioner would be required to stop seeing patients following an investigation into her patient health record keeping, prescribing, and clinical decision-making practices.
Prior to suspending her medical license, Konopka had practiced medicine in New Hampshire for 49 years out of an office near her home. She had been seeing 25 to 30 patients a week and had never been sued for malpractice in New Hampshire.
In place of an EHR system, Konopka had been using two file cabinets in the waiting room of her office to house the majority of her patient health records. The only technology in her office was a landline telephone on her desk.