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Myth: EHR Stimulus Bill Requires Doctors to Use EHR and Be Interoperable

Posted on April 22, 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.

There are a bunch of myths being perpetuated right now around ARRA and the HITECH act. I’ve been on a number of conference calls and read a number of people perpetuating these myths. Some might call it poor communication and others might call it downright unethical talk. I’ll leave any judgment to someone else, but I believe these myths could lead to major problems in HIT.

Here’s the first myth I’d like to debunk here and now:
Myth: The EHR Stimulus bill (often referred to as ARRA or the HITECH Act) REQUIRES doctors to use EHR and be interoperable.

Reality: The government has no ability to actually require the use on an EHR. ARRA and the HITECH act do require you to use a certified EHR and show “meaningful use” IF (that’s a big IF) you want to receive the potential $44k in stimulus money avoid the 1-5% medicare/medicaid penalties that will go in force a few years down the road.

That means that if you’re not interested in the government stimulus money then you’ll need an EHR. However, I have a feeling that a large number of people are going to sit back and take the penalties and forget about the stimulus money. In fact, don’t be surprised if many just stop taking medicare/medicaid in response. The point being that it’s a requirement to get money, but not a legal requirement that a doctor use an EHR. I have a feeling those not using an EHR will still have lots of company for the forseeable future.

The interoperability falls under the same story. However, you may not even have to have an interoperable EHR at all if interoperability isn’t part of the EHR certification and “meaningful use” requirements. That part we’ll just have to wait and see.

Moral of the Story: Select an EHR because it makes sense for you and your practice. Don’t focus on the stimulus money and you’ll be much happier in the end.

Pass – Fail EHR Certification is Meaningless

Posted on 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 current pass fail EHR certification model just feels wrong. Everyone who submits to their tests passes. This gives doctors the impression that every EMR vendor that passes their certification has the same functions. Of course, we all know that this is just not the case. There are good and bad certified EHR.

Let me ask you this, why not just publish exactly which criteria passed/failed and possibly even some commentary on why they passed or failed. Then, the criteria could include things like growth charts. Most EHR would want to fail this one while every pediatric EHR would want to make sure it passed with flying colors. In fact, maybe it should not even be a pass/fail for the criteria, but a ranking from 1-10 on how well they implemented this feature.

The amazing thing that could happen with this type of criteria specific rating of EHR software is that doctors and practice managers would receive valuable information about an EHR software. In fact, this would actually engender some discussion and learning for the doctor interested in using the EHR.

I’m sure that some might argue that doctors and those looking for an EHR don’t want to spend all this time looking through a large set of criteria. However, this is where either a qualified consultant can step in and just provide them the specific results that are of interest to their clinic. At the end of the day, the doctor is getting ready to spend thousands of dollars on an EHR system that will be the heart of their practice.

If a doctor doesn’t want to spend the time researching such an expensive and important decision, then that’s their prerogative. However, I believe that many will do the research, but currently they have things like pass/fail criteria which give them a false sense of security when selecting an EHR.