EMR Stimulus Questions and Answers

Posted on June 2, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the challenges of this blog is writing content that will be interesting and useful to a wide variety of readers. At times I think I assume that those visiting EMR and HIPAA have read my 770 previous posts and should have a good understanding about the EMR world.

Of course, the reality is that many of the people visiting this site might only read a couple different posts. Even more significant is that they might only have a remedial understanding of EMR and in particular the EMR stimulus money. This leaves me with the challenge of keeping the long time readers interested and benefiting from the content I create while still helping the EMR newbies understand what they need to know.

In that vein, here’s some questions that I got in an email about meaningful use and the EMR stimulus. Those of you well versed in the EMR stimulus can go and enjoy EMR and EHR or add some content to the EMR wiki while I do what I can to answer.

Are there governing bodies that have been set up to “certify” EMR/EHR software vendors?
Not yet. The government hasn’t recognized any bodies that will certify EMR/EHR per the ARRA requirements. They’ve published some guidelines and rules for those bodies, but HHS has yet to recognize any of them as official ARRA EMR Stimulus certifying bodies. I expect by end of summer we’ll have a couple to choose from. The Drummond Group and CCHIT are both planning to be EHR certifying bodies, but neither has been officially recognized yet.

Do EMR/EHR software vendors have to be “certified”? If they are not “certified”, does this prevent their customers from receiving federal money?
In most cases the EMR/EHR software vendor is the one that will be certified. There has been some provisions and discussions about allowing for 2 other EHR certification options beyond just using a “fully certified EHR” software.

The first is that you could use a combination of certified software vendors. For example, you might use one certified EMR vendor for everything but ePrescribing and then you’ll choose another software vendor who is only certified for the ePrescribing portion. It seems that this type of combo certification will be allowed.

The second is what’s been called a site certification. This would essentially be where a specific site (or location) would be certified against the EHR certification criteria. This is best illustrated by a hospital or clinic which has their own home grown EMR software. This EHR site certification would allow them to certify their site and give them access to the EMR stimulus money. It’s possible that an option like this won’t be available, but from what I can tell it’s looking like it will happen.

Do you think that it is possible to satisfy the Stage 1 objectives?
This is a loaded question. The short answer is that everything is possible. Whether it’s possible or not is not as important as whether doctors will do it or not. This question is hard to answer right now. Mostly because we’re missing a lot of the practical meaningful use details which doctors need to know in order to make a decision.

My gut feeling tells me that it will go about like PQRI stimulus money. Some will get the EMR stimulus and be happy. The same number will try for it and be really disappointed by the whole process. More will say it’s just not worth my time right now. That’s not to say that many of these doctors won’t (or shouldn’t) implement an EMR. I think many of them will, but they’ll do it for the inherent benefits of EMR software and not for the EMR stimulus money.