EHR Adoption Will Be Slowed Significantly by HITECH

Posted on February 28, 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.

I recently posted what I think is a relatively reasonable timeline for EHR adoption. It’s very broad, but I think that most doctors could use it as a reasonable estimate of how long it will take to implement an EHR or EMR in their clinic.

Of course, the above EHR implementation timeline doesn’t start until a doctor or clinic makes the decision to actually implement an EHR in their clinic. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that HITECH is going to dramatically delay many doctor’s decision to implement an EHR.

The HITECH act just gave doctors who were on the fence about implementing an EMR will now have a bunch of great excuses why they should wait longer to implement an EMR:

  • We need to know what certification criteria is chosen by HHS
  • How will HHS define meaningful use? Will we even be able to show that?
  • Will our preferred EHR be able to satisfy the HITECH act reporting requirements?
  • Let’s wait to see what open source EHR HHS gives away

I’m sure there are other reasons. While I’d usually say that these were just excuses for people who don’t want to use an EHR, I actually think this is probably the best plan for those looking to implement an EHR. I don’t think I’d be signing any contracts with a vendor right now. Unless I didn’t care about getting the EHR stimulus (which might actually be a good line of thinking).

What shouldn’t be delayed is the evaluation of the various EHR on the market today. In fact, I highly suggest this evaluation takes place before HHS defines the above items. EHR stimulus money should not be a major factor in your EHR selection process, but instead should be an added side benefit or a tie breaker for 2 equally great EHR companies.

Certainly some will argue that some doctors will be motivated by the HITECH act to implement an EHR quickly in order to receive the EHR stimulus that begins in 2011. Doctors who can’t show meaningful EHR use by 2011 could possibly miss out on the medicaid and medicare bonuses. I just honestly don’t think that most doctors will care that much about it.

Those who would have been proactive in implementing an EHR because of this already have an EHR and are just licking their chops at the idea that they might get some extra money from government for little additional work. I don’t see many of those who haven’t implemented an EHR being that motivated by a few thousand possible government dollars.