Costs of EMR Certification for Meaningful Use And Impact on EMR Vendors

Posted on August 19, 2010 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.

Long time readers will know that I’m not a fan of EMR certification. It seems quite pointless since it provides no assurance to the doctor of anything of value. EMR Certification doesn’t ensure a higher implementation success rate. EMR Certification doesn’t improve patient care. EMR Certification doesn’t improve doctor’s bottom line.

With that said, we’re still stuck with the term “certified EHR” in the HITECH Act EMR stimulus money legislation. So, EMR certification is going to be around for the foreseeable future.

CEO Mike from Medscribbler EMR posted an interesting look at the cost of CCHIT EMR Certification and the impact that it could have on EMR vendor selection and long term viability of EMR vendors. I’ve included his comments below:

Note: See my post about whether you have to use a CCHIT Certified EMR vendor before reading Mike’s comments.

Using the CMS’s own data and report a CCHIT EMR will spend between $125,000 to $350,000 in programming costs to be certified (add at least $20,000 for actual certification) An existing EMR not CCHIT certified they predict will spend $175,000 to $700,000 to meet the standards (plus the $20,000.)

Certification has to be done for each year, for three, so a 2011 certification does not guarantee MU certification for 2012.

Self certifying for Open Source are not exempt from requirements so it stands to reason they will have the same expense.

What does this mean:

1. Forget collecting MU with Open Source software.

2. If you are using no CCHIT software it is unlikely the software will be qualified by the vendor.

3. Even fewer EMR vendors will certify than those that did so for CCHIT.

4. Innovation is dead if MU certification becomes generally why an EMR is purchased as this will also set the preception of useability. Vendor design resourcess will go to MU not useability.

5. If MU EMRs fail to get widespread purchase, those EMRs who certify are dead (including some current larger market share ones, as they will undoubtably spend a ton on marketing to maintain their share.) The MU EMRs will also then presummably be left behind by the innovators for useability.

6. Certifying bodies, especially CCHIT may be in trouble because there will be fewer takers, or they will charge a lot more pushing EMR prices up.

7. Regardless everyone is going to pay a lot more for an EMR making the MU payment mote.

Medscribbler could be certified, we are still evaluating this, because there are a lot of CCHIT EMRs now dead in the water – certification is no guarantee of success – we believe useability is – and how do we balance useablity which will guarantee success with certification which may or may not?