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Lowering the Meaningful Use Bar

Posted on June 1, 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.

The Healthcare IT writer at BNet, Ken Terry, recently posted a quote from David Brailer, former national health IT czar, about the final meaningful use rule and physician adoption of EMR:

Brailer, like a number of other observers, believes that federal overseers at the Department of Health and Human Services will lower the bar when the final regulations are published next month. “I expect the final rules will be softer, more developmental and incremental,” he said.

That would be good news for doctors and hospitals. Still, many physicians are reluctant to make the leap into health IT because they have to invest in it upfront, before getting any subsidies, and they worry that it will kill their productivity.

I agree that the final rule for meaningful use will have a lower bar. However, will it be a significantly lower bar or will it just have a few elements that lower the bar without any real meaningful changes?

The challenge is that HHS is faced with dealing with the legislative requirements that they’ve been given against the comments they’ve received. It seems like at this point that those two items are at odds and HHS is in a tough position with few ways out.

Either way, I think we can all agree that we’d all just love some meaningful details on how to get the EMR stimulus money. Good or bad, reasonable or unreasonable, it would just be nice to know the details so that we can make some informed decisions.

MGMA Letter to David Blumenthal About HITECH Act’s EMR Stimulus Money

Posted on December 5, 2009 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.

The MGMA sent a letter to David Blumenthal warning that if done poorly the ARRA’s EMR stimulus money could result in “the needless squandering of resources and significant disruption to the nation’s healthcare system.”

The bNet Healthcare blog gives a summary of MGMA’s recommendations to avoid this situation:

  • The meaningful use criteria should be easily adoptable in a wide range of practice settings, including small practices and rural practices.
  • Between the date of the final rule and the 2011 start date of the incentive program, the government should conduct a pilot to ensure that “the process of demonstrating meaningful use is achievable and practical.”
  • Instead of using a “pass/fail” structure, the government should inform physicians of whether they meet the criteria and give them an opportunity to modify their systems and submit corrected data.
  • There should be a simplified process for physician attestation of their use of EHRs, to be verified through random audits.
  • If vendors cannot provide “appropriate and cost-efficient products” that enable physicians to show meaningful use, the government should use its statutory authority to provide a low-cost EHR that meets those criteria.
  • Doctors should be able to use a range of methods of reporting quality data, including claims-based information, and they should be able to test their reporting systems before the incentive start date.
  • The government should create a website and toll-free telephone numbers so that physicians can report problems with vendors.

I especially like the pilot program idea since one of my biggest complaints about previous government healthcare IT incentives was that many people planned and hoped for the government money and some catch left them empty handed.