A run on the dark side of the paperwork debate


So a friend and I have made a habit of going for a stress-busting run on Wednesday nights after work. It's one of my favorite runs, one that starts and ends in the parking lot of a local grocery story on the edge of Casco Bay in South Portland, Maine, and follows a trail that winds through neighborhoods where people work on their boats in their yards and parks where lighthouses guard the coastline. Have I told you how nice it is to live in Maine? (Well, six months out of the year, anyway.)

This friend of mine is a nurse practitioner for a single-physician practice in the next town over. One of the recurring topics of discussion on these runs is this friend's inability to keep up with patient charts and other paperwork. Ahhh, that dreaded P-word.

For this friend, it's part distaste for the activity and part futility. I hear so often from HME providers about how difficult it is to get paperwork from physicians so they can provide products and services to patients. In some cases, it handcuffs them. Well, it's no wonder. Even if a physician or a nurse practitioner or a therapist knows what paperwork to file and how to file it correctly (What are the chances of that?), they don't want to do it (Who could blame them?) and they have too much of it to do (Don't you know that feeling?).

So really, when it comes to paperwork, that dreaded P-word, physicians and providers may have more in common than they think.

Here's an idea: When providers get frustrated because a physician or nurse practitioner or therapist isn't getting them the paperwork they need, they should think about how the physician or nurse practitioner or therapist is probably frustrated, too. Then they should—speaking of futility—blame the bad apples that put them in this position to begin with and Uncle Sam's heavy-handed reaction.

And then they should go for a run.

Liz Beaulieu