Should ARRA be Paying EMR Vendors?

Posted on August 3, 2006 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 understand that looking at the ARRA EHR stimulus money now is kind of after the fact. The legislation has already passed and the EHR stimulus money is going to have to go to doctors by means of medicare and medicaid. With that said, as I’ve read much of the commentary on ARRA and written about EMR stimulus money myself, I couldn’t help but wonder if we’re paying the wrong people.

No, I don’t mean that doctors shouldn’t be assisted with money to buy an EHR. What I mean is that if EMR software were worth the money, then doctors would have adopted it a long time ago. This leads me to wonder if the ARRA stimulus money shouldn’t be given to the EMR vendors who are able to provide a software product that is usable and that doctors want to install.

Certainly this doesn’t mean that it would have to be given out the same way. In fact, much of the logic behind the money would have to change. I just have serious misgivings about paying a bunch of money for doctors to implement EMR systems that are lacking in features and functions just because certain EMR vendors are better able to market their EMR. Instead, we should be spending the money on improving the EMR software in a way that doctors would be remiss if they chose not to use it. Imagine your life without a Word processing program. Shouldn’t EMR software be so good that a doctor couldn’t imagine their life without it?

I’ve even read some people suggesting that EHR vendors should deduct the cost of their EMR software by the amount of EHR stimulus money a doctor could obtain. If an EMR vendor is so sure that their software can show “meaningful use” and will be a “certified EHR,” then this shouldn’t be a problem, right? Of course, this theory breaks down when you think about how integral a practices use of an EMR software is going to be to show “meaningful use.”

The point is that we need to promote more highly usable and effective EMR vendors instead of spending a lot of money on EMR software that’s lacking.