Will It Leave a Scar? by Pat Conrad MD

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.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  8 comments for “Will It Leave a Scar? by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Deborah
    August 5, 2017 at 9:30 am

    This is America, there will be 16 brands of incompatible chipping devices and none of our present EMR systems will read the new technology.

  2. William braswell
    August 1, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Don’t you mean: “will it leave THE mark”? Actually, we all know that you did and appreciate you. Read you every morning with my coffee. Thanks and take care.

  3. Bill Ameen MD
    August 1, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Hey Doug,
    I think it’s coming sooner than your timeline! If it’s good enough for my cat or dog, why not? I understand that some drug stores sell a tiny flash drive that can be worn in a bracelet that a patient can type in his or her medical history, so why not a chip? Hey, maybe food-stamp recipients will use chips someday to BUY chips! If they could just test for illegal drugs or toxic levels of prescription drugs like glucometers built into insulin pumps test glucose levels!
    I’m sure some clown in a suit will find a way for doctors to have imbedded chips tied to reimbursement, MOC, or Press-Ganey!

  4. George Voigtlander
    August 1, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I wish that both Pat and Lance are having paranoid delusions but history seems to indicate that they are giving us a glimpse of the future. Take HIPAA(please, [sorry Rodney]), everyone seems to have access to information, except the ED doc who needs to make life and death decisions based on the foggy recollections of a demented relative. I doubt a chip will able to remedy this. Try, just try to get information from the VA at 2 AM.

    It may not be a chip, maybe it will be a bar code on your neck, but be assured our privacy will be invaded with very limited improvement for us of any kind.

    How long do you think it will be before some whiz kid figures out how to pirate the info on the embedded chip? I guess a chip logger will be on sale on the dark web by day after tomorrow.

    George Orwell was only wrong about the date.

  5. Frank Rubino MD
    August 1, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    Well written and gives me pause.

  6. Sir Lance-a-lot
    August 1, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Pat, you missed —

    2022: Noting the acceptance level, levels of comfort and safety, and high level of accuracy, CMS approves use of implanted chips as a “primary identifier,” which may be used by EMR systems to authenticate a user’s identity.

    2024: All EMR manufacturers are “encouraged” by CMS to include an implanted chip “module,” allowing those systems and users that wish to use the technology.

    2027: Citing the known inadequacies and risks inherent in password-driven, ID card-driven, and fingerprint-driven access identification systems, CMS initiates an “incentive” program to “encourage” all systems to install chip-sensors, and all physicians to have themselves chipped.

    2030: “You can’t possibly be a doctor – my sensor isn’t showing any chip…”

    • Pat
      August 1, 2017 at 10:48 pm

      Bravo Lance????

    • Perry
      August 2, 2017 at 11:07 am

      It’s a Brave New World…

Comments are closed.