One of the saddest aspects of medicine is how society immediately calls upon physicians to help implement every social trend and political wave that rolls in. Yeah I read “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” and am well aware that individuals, and so their societies, evolve. I’m not a Luddite, nor am I a preacher, but sometimes thinking, independent minds – not sure how many doctors that still includes – should slam our fists and scream “hell no!”
The company Three Square Market is offering implantable microchips to their employees, surgically inserted into the hand, beginning August 1st, with about 50 signing on to the first implantations, including the CEO Todd Westby (pictured above): “This is the future.” The chipped will be able to open secure doors, purchase snacks, operate copy machines, or log on to their computers with a wave of their wrists. “Westby told CNBC this week that the $300 a piece chip isn’t used for tracking people and has no GPS device. Since it’s ‘passive,’ it also can’t be hacked, he added.
“’The chances of this being hacked into is literally nil to none,’ Westby said.”
Well that’s comforting! Now let me introduce you health techs to your future:
2020 – As an attempt to slow the rise of Medicare/Medicaid spending, CMS authorizes pilot programs in select areas to test the feasibility of using implantable chips holding updatable medical records, in what policy experts tout will bring “a new era of EHR interoperability.” Some of the first recipients will be demented and or bed-bound nursing home residents because, as one senator joked, “they don’t really go anywhere anyway.”
2021 – The AAFP publishes several studies demonstrating the quality improvements achieved by the implantable chips, said studies funded by the NIH. The ABFM begins to add implantable chip procedure modules to their mandatory CME, and their board recertification exams. ABFM president James Puffer, MD noted during congressional testimony that “adding this exciting technology to daily clinic practice will give us the ability to deliver the professionalism that patients are demanding.”
2022 – To offset the latest Medicare fee schedule cuts, CMS offers bonuses for physicians based on the percentage of patients they see who use implanted chips for their medical records. The first case of a physician being sued for HIPAA violations because his patient was hacked while standing in line at Wal-Mart was thrown out due to insufficient evidence that the physician knew the whereabouts of the victim at the time of the hacking, a ruling supported by an amicus brief from the AMA. The physicians in question later agreed to an administrative fine for the data breach, and had to take additional CME on the technology.
2024 – Implantable chips are given to food stamp recipients, with overall positive acceptance; shortly thereafter a majority of states begin mandatory chip implantation for all Medicaid patients. As part of ongoing federal subsidies, the last remaining “private” insurance companies offer premium discounts for being chipped; plans are published to require universal patient compliance within 5 years.
2026- Providers that see Medicare/Medicaid patients will be given 1% bonuses per year for the next 5 years if they accept implantable chips, in order to better verify synchronize their face-to-face encounters with the chip-using patient databases. Those not accepting chips will face a 1% per year penalty, similar to the encouragement mechanisms used for EHR adoption years earlier.
Sure, call me paranoid, call me hysterical, laugh it off and say it will never happen in such a free society. But when our compassionate state says it’s time for my chip, they better send a couple of very large thugs, because someone is going to the hospital, whether or not it’s covered.