Problems with ARRA EMR Stimulus Money

Posted on November 16, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 recently read a Healthcare IT article that talks about some of the challenges with the EMR stimulus money. Here’s a couple of the challenges discussed with my commentary.

Albert L. Strunk, MD, representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said ACOG is concerned that the measures, while clinical in nature, are not related to adoption of electronic medical records. “The meaningful use measures for ARRA should determine whether a physician has met the objectives shown in the meaningful use matrix, not whether the EMR is being used to report clinical quality measures that rarely apply to that physician’s patients,” he said.

I think this is an interesting analysis. Clinical quality measures are one of the main goals of having an EMR. However, very few doctors look at it that way. I think they will get the incentives wrong if they focus on the clinical quality measures and not on the features of an EMR that benefit the doctor. I’m still sticking with my original analysis that the government really wants doctors to have an EMR so they can improve the Medicare reimbursement rates (in their favor of course).

Another section about interoperable EMR software:

Experts at the hearing testified that providers are willing to wait to purchase a HIT system until they know it will be interoperable. They said physicians from small practices often interact with more than five community hospitals and several labs, each with a different system. Doctors need to know that whatever electronic health record they buy will work with the systems the labs and hospitals have.

I don’t personally get the feeling that most doctors care about interoperability when making their EMR selection. Ok, let me clarify. They want it to connect with their lab and hospital. However, most don’t worry about it interacting with other doctors offices in a true interoperable fashion. The problem is that interoperability between a doctors office and hospitals/labs is not the same as what most people consider an interoperable EMR. I’m talking about EMR software talking to other EMR software (or an RHIO or HIE). Most doctors don’t care about this. At least not more than all the other financial issues related to EMR.