84-year-old Anna Konopka doesn't use a computer. She says that cost her a medical license.

Anna Konopka, an 84-year-old M.D. in New London, New Hampshire, lost her medical license in part because she doesn't use a computer—meaning that she cannot participate in the state's mandatory drug monitoring program. Now she's trying to get her license back.

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Konopka's story

Konopka went to medical school in Poland, where she was born, and graduated in 1960. In 1961, she immigrated to the United States and has been a licensed physician since 1968, practicing in New London since 1989.

Her office, which she operates on her own, is housed in a 160-year-old clapboard house containing two filing cabinets and one landline telephone—but no computer.

She has a loyal patient base in New London, population 4,400, as well as in nearby towns. She's especially popular among those who don't have health insurance, as she doesn't require insurance to see a patient: She'll see anyone who is willing to pay her $50 in cash.

"I'm interested in helping people," she said. "I didn't go [in]to medicine for money, and I didn't make money."

The case against Konopka

But Konopka's computer-free practice has recently come under fire: The New Hampshire Board of Medicine in October required her to surrender her medical license, in part due to her failure to use the state's online drug monitoring program.

New Hampshire mandates that prescribers provide information to state officials about their opioid prescriptions and compliance requires a computer. "The problem now is that I am not doing certain things on a computer," Konopka said. "I have to learn that. It is time consuming. I have no time."

Konopka said she's willing to learn computer skills, but added that "everything is expensive," and that she "would have to raise [her] fee and many people don't have insurance."

Also at issue in the case are several complaints filed against Konopka by former patients. In one instance, she allegedly left the dosing levels of medicine for an asthmatic seven-year-old up to the child's parents and did not treat the child with daily steroids. Konopka claims that she never harmed the patient, saying the patient's mother disregarded instructions.

Four other complaints also have been filed against Konopka, and in September, the New Hampshire Board of Medicine agreed to move forward with a disciplinary hearing. Konopka in October agreed to give up her medical license, but she went to court on Nov. 3 in an effort to get it reinstated.

Konopka told the court that she's worried what will happen if she closes her doors. Speaking of her patients, Konopka said, "If I close my office, they will be without medical care." She added, "Some of them need medications. Who will prescribe for them if I don't have a license? I worry what will happen to them."

The judge did not immediately rule on Konopka's case (Gamble, Becker's Health IT & CIO Review, 11/3; Casey, Associated Press, 11/4; Farivar, Ars Technica, 11/5).

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