Meaningful Use Will Force Doctors into ACOs

Posted on July 10, 2013 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.

They have made this mu reporting so bad….as our doctor says…they do not want doctor’s to practice by themselves…They are doing all they can to get them into ACOS…

The above is a quote from an EMR and HIPAA reader who emailed me about the meaningful use requirements. The conclusion was what really caught my attention. There are a number of questions that should be asked based on the statement above.

Does the government want doctors to not practice by themselves?
No one in government would say this and this isn’t their thought process at all. What they do want to see is a reform to how we pay for healthcare. If that means that doctors no longer practice on their own, I think they’re ok with that. I don’t think that’s the conclusion they’ve come to yet, but I think that’s what the reader is insinuating in the above comments. Personally I think it will be a tragedy for the physician community if we no longer have solo doctors and small group practices.

Does the government want all doctors in an ACO?
Absolutely. They are pushing accountable care organizations and anything that will get us away from the fee for service model that we have today. Right now they think that ACOs are the path to get to a pay for performance system. That means they need every doctor in an ACO for it to work.

Is meaningful use designed to be hard to encourage doctors to move to ACOs?
No. Meaningful use was designed to be as hard as they thought they could possibly make it and still get a large number of doctors to do meaningful use. Of course, meaningful use’s intent is all about creating some accountability for the EHR incentive money. However, there’s little doubt that some of the other government goals have been incorporated into meaningful use in the process.

My conclusion is that getting doctors into ACOs certainly wasn’t the intent of meaningful use, but it might well be the result. Maybe doctors aren’t fond of that result. This could be part of why 17% of providers got the first EHR incentive check and didn’t show meaningful use for the second EHR incentive payout.