The following is a guest blog post by Joel Kanick in response to the question I posed in my “State of the Meaningful Use” call to action.
If MU were gone (ie. no more EHR incentive money or penalties), which parts of MU would you remove from your EHR immediately and which parts would you keep?
President and CEO of Kanick And Company and Lead Developer and Chief Architect of interfaceMD
In fact, the pursuit of Meaningful Use (MU) certification has given our company many new ideas that allowed us to go above and beyond the bar MU already set.
Initially, doctors bought into EMRs for the financial incentive. Now that they are educated consumers, they want everything that was promised to them to work for them. Doctors have learned that EMRs are only one small part of the Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) puzzle. They need help putting the rest of the puzzle together.
No one is complaining about MU regarding the direction it is taking healthcare or HIT industries.
Any complaining that comes from a vendor is usually because their technology is outdated and behind the technology curve. They are angry because MU is calling them out. So, shame on vendors for becoming rich, fat and lazy, and not keeping with current technology.
Of the complaints I hear from providers, there are two scenarios:
First scenario: the providers who resent the government telling them how to practice medicine. However and upon deeper review, these providers already ask and track most of all these data points. They just don’t like the way it has been required and thus crammed into their current systems. I understand their anger, they were not consulted as to how to fit all this into their workflow and so it is cumbersome to use.
Second scenario, the providers’ office is still using fax machines, some required by their EMR vendor. They are still dictating (PCs, iPhone apps, phone recorders) all their exam data and still relying on paper charts. In practices of all sizes, providers complain of MU because they don’t want to change how they operate their business. After all, they have been doing it this way for many years, successfully. They complain of this change because they fear the unknown.
They are doctors; highly skilled and highly educated in medicine but not in business or technology. I see so many doctors closing their privately held medical practices to join a group practice or a hospital setting. Most will freely admit that it’s because they don’t want to address the fear and go through the anticipated pain of migrating to a paperless environment. They don’t know how to choose or maintain the system, with or without MU.
What I know MU is positively doing:
- Setting a standard language (ie: XML)
- Setting a standard format (ie: HL7)
- Setting a secure communication channel (ie: Direct Protocol)
- Requiring patient portals to potentially aid in convenience to the patient and lower the workload on office staff
- Creating a standard method to share data electronically (ie: CCDA)
- Demanding security and encryption and planning for emergency scenarios
- Utilizing eRx to reduce fraud, abuse and increase safety in drugs that are prescribed
- Reducing paperwork (eg: lab requests), speeding-up information delivery (eg: lab results electronically instead of by paper delivery)
- Promoting communication to educate patients
- Demanding reconciliation of data when exchanged between two organizations to make certain correct information is gained
Selfishly, from my point of view, the largest complaint regarding MU2 is that it requires all pertinent health information be exported and imported in a standard format allowing providers to easily change EMR vendors. This MU requirement should scare some EMR vendors!
Effectually, MU is pushing change and as a result it is getting a bad rap.
See other responses to this question here.