Interesting HITECH Act Scenario

Posted on April 3, 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.

Today I was talking with someone about the way the HITECH act works and I thought about an interesting scenario.

Let’s say that a clinic decides to implement one of the “certified EHR” in their practice. Everything goes well and they implement without any problems. The clinic spent a large sum of money to implement an overpriced certified EHR, but felt good because it would be offset by the $44k (approximately) that they’d receive from the HITECH act.

Let’s say it comes time for the practice to prove “meaningful use” in order to receive their reimbursement. Unfortunately, something about the way they are documenting in the EHR excludes them from being able to show “meaningful use” (hard to give a specific example until we know what that means) and therefore excludes them from getting any of the hoped for $44k of reimbursement money.

Would be a horrible situation, no? I’m not sure about this next part (so correct me if I’m wrong), but think about this. Now the clinic has spent a large sum of money on an EHR, isn’t eligible for the hoped for $44k, and now are going to incur a 1-5% penalty for not having an EHR that shows “meaningful use.” Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t remember hearing about an exception to the penalty if you tried to show “meaningful use” and failed. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Imagine if one of the “certified EHR” ends up learning that no one who selected that certified EHR will be eligible for the reimbursement, because the way the certified EHR was designed doesn’t meet the “meaningful use” criteria.

I hope that none of these happens, but I know if I was a doctor of practice manager looking at the HITECH act money I’d be worried that something will go wrong and I’ll have spent a lot of money and be stuck with no reimbursement.