E-patient advocate Hugo Campos has found another landmine as he navigates the course for full access to his implantable cardiac device data from his implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) – the clandestine world of medical billing.
Campos, who was recently given the blessing of Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak
to gain access to the data from his ICD in the form of an XML, wasn't too surprised when he received a bill for $192 for a physician visit to access his ICD data. The real blow came soon after when he received a hospital bill for a “Remote ICD Interrogation” to the tune of $605 – for a grand total expense of $797 for a two-page XML document detailing his device data.
Campos tweeted on Sept. 6:
Campos is uninsured since he has a preexisting condition (the same one that creates his need for the ICD) so the bill features no patient or insurance adjustments. A near $800 bill for an uninsured patient is not terribly surprising but consider that this is a bill for a non-invasive procedure that takes, in Campos' estimation, about five minutes. In fact, Campos says its a procedure that happens routinely when his physician wants to check up on him. It can even be done remotely using a box, connected to a phone line, that can send patient data from Campos' home to Stanford's CareLink cloud-based patient data system, which in turn is picked up by Medtronic's Paceart system at the hospital.
Due to Campos' outcry for his data, Medtronic recently installed a script into Stanford's Paceart system to cull Campos' data specifically and convert it into a XML file that can be opened in Excel or other spreadsheet software. Moreoever the data is not in any form that is easily interpretable by a layman, so it's hard to imagine any fee for having the data interrpreted or explained comes into play here.
While it's not clear if Campos is a unique case in terms of the cost to access his data, the idea of a $797 bill every time implant patients access their device data very much flies in the face of affordable healthcare and it certainly doesn't bode well for other patients who may want access to their implantable device data in the future. Does this mean it costs Stanford $605 every time one of its doctors accesses patient implantable device data?
Phone calls to Stanford Hospital & Clinics for clarification on the associated costs of the device interrogation procedure were not returned at the time of writing.