Pamela sent me the following EMR stimulus question in response to my post about Doctor’s having no choice with meaningful use:
Can we show meaningful use without a certified EMR or would we still be penalized since our EMR vendor has no intention on becoming certified?
The current HITECH law requires meaningful use of a certified EHR. So, you have to use a certified EHR to get the EMR stimulus money and to avoid the Medicare penalties. They have been looking at doing site certifications so you could show that you’ve put together everything to satisfy the certified EHR portion. However, so far I’ve only seen the site certification really apply to hospitals. I haven’t seen a site certification for smaller doctors offices (yet?).
Just be aware that some are suggesting that the penalties will never be imposed. Basically, they say that ONC will just keep delaying those penalties for one reason or another and that they’ll never actually be enforced. Plus, don’t be surprised if they make exceptions for certain medical specialties. For example, if not a single chiropractor (or some small number) shows meaningful use of a certified EHR, then it seems reasonable that ONC could look at making an exception for those specialty groups.
It’s also worth taking a look at this post I did which gave an example of the EMR stimulus Medicare penalties. They don’t amount to as much as you’d think.
I imagine we’ll see quite a few faced with this situation. This will become even bigger when some EMR vendors decide to deal with meaningful use stage 1, but choose not to prepare for meaningful use stage 2. Allscripts will be doing this with their now sunsetted EMR acquisition, Peak Practice. Basically, they’re going to make it work for meaningful use stage 1, but then users will have to switch to a different Allscripts EMR for meaningful use stage 2. That will make for a tough decision for someone who has to switch EMR software to get more stimulus money and avoid the penalties.
I have a strong feeling that EMR and HIPAA is going to make a switch from talking about selecting and implementing EMR to switching EMR software over the next 5 or so years. Not a fun subject for providers to consider, but many are actually doing it now.