Kaiser's EMR efforts go on, without critic

Justen Deal is on unpaid leave after missing meetings to discuss e-mail denigrating the EMR project.

By Tyler Chin — Posted Jan. 22, 2007

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Southern California Permanente Medical Group has placed Justen Deal, who distributed a mass e-mail within Kaiser Permanente claiming that the organization's $3 billion implementation of an electronic medical records system is failing, on unpaid administrative leave.

Deal, who has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 6, 2006, was moved to unpaid after declining several requests to meet with his employer, said Thomas J. Williamson, SCPMG business administrator of operations in a prepared statement provided by Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.

KFHP and SCPMG are separate organizations; the former contracts with the latter to provide care to plan members in southern California. The organization has acknowledged problems implementing its EMR but denies the project is in trouble.

Deal will remain on unpaid leave pending an internal investigation of his use of computers, systems and servers owned by Kaiser Permanente, Williamson said in the statement.

Deal said he declined Kaiser's requests for a meeting at 1 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2006, for several reasons, including a previously scheduled doctor's appointment. "It just wouldn't have been physically possible for me essentially to be at two places at once."

Deal said he also declined because he was told that he wouldn't be allowed to have counsel or an advocate present, and would not be able to tape record or transcribe the meeting. And he said he declined to meet with Kaiser because the meeting was requested by KFHP, not his employer.

Jim Anderson, a spokesman for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, said the health plan's human resources department has provided human resources services to all nonphysician employees of SCPMG for decades. Anderson declined to respond to Deal's assertions that Kaiser barred him from having counsel at the meeting or tape recording its proceedings.

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