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Iron Triangle, EHR Digital Divide, and EHR Downtime

Posted on February 9, 2014 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.


I love this diagram. Now think about how meaningful use and EHR certification has skewed this diagram.


I expect this divide to grow even wider. The same could be said for rural vs urban healthcare as well. Rural EHR adoption is likely to fall behind.


Nope. You better be ready for EHR downtime. No system is immune.

Rural Hospital EHR

Posted on April 2, 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.

As I mentioned in my previous post on EHR Penalties and Meaningful Use Failure, I had a really good discussion with Stoltenberg Consulting about rural hospital EHR at HIMSS this year. While Stoltenberg no doubt works with hospital systems of every size, I could tell that they had a real affection for the rural hospital EHR challenge. Plus, it was great to be educated some more on the challenges rural hospitals face when it comes to meaningful use and EHR since I’ve been doing a lot more writing about it on my Hospital EMR and EHR website.

I collected a few observations from my chat that I think are worth talking about when it comes to the unique rural hospital EHR situation. One of those ideas is the challenge that rural hospitals have in providing EHR help desk support. It’s worth remembering that hospitals are 24/7 institutions that need 24/7 support in many cases. Now imagine trying to staff an EHR help desk for a small rural hospital. From what I’ve seen, most can barely have an IT support help desk available, let alone an EHR help desk. Stoltenberg Consulting wisely sees this as a great opportunity for EHR consults to provide this type of service to rural hospitals. If you spread the cost of a 24/7 EHR help desk across multiple hospitals, the costs start to make sense.

Another interesting observation was that most rural hospitals are mostly Medicare and Medicaid funded. I’m not an expert on the pay scales of rural America, but when you look at the costs of living in the rural areas you realize that they don’t need to make as much money to live. Plus, I imagine in some cases there just aren’t that many jobs available to them. If they aren’t making as much money, then they’re more likely to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid. Why does this matter?

The amount of Medicare a rural hospital has matters a lot since if they don’t show “meaningful use” of a “certified EHR” then they will incur the meaningful use penalties. It’s simple math to see that the more Medicare reimbursement you receive the larger the EHR penalty you’ll incur.

There’s something that doesn’t feel right about the rich hospitals who’ve likely implemented an EHR before the stimulus getting paid the EHR incentive money while rural hospitals who can barely afford to keep their doors open getting not only penalties, but large penalties because of their large Medicare reimbursement. It’s probably water under a bridge now, but I could see why Stoltenberg Consulting suggested that rural and community hospitals should have been given more time to show meaningful use of an EHR.

As I mentioned, I’m still learning about the rural hospital EHR space, but I found these points quite interesting. If you have a different view or have experience that differs, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. No doubt there are thousands of unique rural environments and I’d love to learn more about them and how they’re approaching EHR. Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

EHR Penalties after Meaningful Use Failure

Posted on March 15, 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.

While at HIMSS I had a discussion with the consulting firm Stoltenberg Consulting. I was really intrigued by their approach to EHR consulting and will likely write more about it later. Plus, the started what in many ways became a theme of my HIMSS experience around rural healthcare EHR. You can be sure I’ll be writing about rural EHR here on this site and on Hospital EMR and EHR much more in the future.

In our casual introductory conversation we had a good discussion about how many of the smaller hospitals look at meaningful use and the EHR incentive money. Needless to say, many of these smaller institutions are faced with a huge challenge when it comes to adopting an EHR and showing meaningful use. Many of these rural hospitals barely have an IT staff and the CFO usually takes care of the IT environment. I heard one story at HIMSS where the IT person at a rural hospital started out as the janitor and his home IT skill made him the most qualified person to help.

Needless to say, rural and smaller hospitals have some real challenges facing them when it comes to EHR adoption and showing meaningful use of that EHR. Although, an even worse thought struck me in my discussions about these smaller hospitals.

Imagine many of these smaller hospitals making a good faith effort to adopt EHR and show meaningful use. It’s not that hard to see many of these hospitals falling short of the meaningful use standard. What will this mean to that organization? They’ve spent millions on an EHR. They won’t get the EHR incentive money they likely used as a justification for the EHR spending. To add insult to injury, now they’re going to get penalized for not being meaningful users of an EHR.

This scenario honestly makes me sick to even consider. Something similar could easily happen in small ambulatory practices as well. The scale of the damage will just be different. I expect in meaningful use stage 1 this won’t likely be a problem since it’s self attestation. However, this could become a much bigger issue in meaningful use stage 2.

Although, consider an organization who fails a meaningful use stage 1 audit. In most cases you can’t go back and fix whatever you failed in the audit. You’d be in a very similar situation where you have to return the EHR incentive money and would be open to the meaningful use penalties. At least that’s my understanding of how the EHR penalties will be implemented. If you know otherwise, I’d love to hear it.

While I think the above scenarios are brutal, hopefully this will also serve as a warning for those hospitals pursuing EHR and the EHR incentive money. Be sure you are able to show meaningful use or you’ll not only lose out on the incentive money, but you’ll also be open to the EHR penalties. Not to mention, are you ready for a meaningful use audit?