To See EMR Stimulus Money or Not To See EMR Stimulus Money

Posted on September 17, 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.

There have been a number of articles and studies that have come out recently that suggest that hospitals are unlikely to receive the EMR stimulus money from the HITECH Act. Here’s one study from CSC that’s been summarized by Ken Terry from BNet. Then, there’s also this Mckinsey analysis that was talked about by Paul Roemer on Healthcare IT Strategy. In this study it talks about the costs of implementing an EMR being more than the stimulus money.

Of course, I like to take studies with a grain of salt. I think you can generally manipulate the numbers any way you want them to appear. However, these findings should wake healthcare up to the idea that all is not rosy when it comes to free government handouts.

However, one thing that I think they did miss in the above articles was the fact that in meaningful use stage 1 it’s basically all based upon self attestation of results. That’s right. I assume you’ll have some login to a portal where you’ll attest that you indeed have implemented and followed all of the meaningful use stage one guidelines. Seriously, you just tell them that you’ve done it and they give you the money.

So, where’s the challenge?

First, self attestation is for meaningful use stage 1. We don’t know how they’ll handle meaningful use reporting for stage 2 and 3. It could be the same or it could be more rigorous. We’ll have to see.

Second, I imagine ONC/HHS/CMS will implement some sort of audit plan for self attestation. However, considering their budget and past government history, I bet this audit plan won’t be as much about finding those who lied and cheated the system. It will be more about measuring how many people lied and cheated the system. It’s a numbers game where the government has to live with a certain amount of dishonesty while still achieving their objectives. That said, I wouldn’t want to be the clinic that is caught in a lie about their meaningful use of an EHR.

I’m still personally not on or off the EMR stimulus bandwagon. I still personally believe it’s best to use it as a bonus plan and not part of your core EMR implementation strategy.