One Way Of Measuring Meaningful Use Productivity Loss

Posted on August 26, 2010 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 think I better just invite BobbyG to join me as a blogger since he’s often contributing essentially great blog posts in the comment. I just have to highlight them. So, here’s one comment that BobbyG offered that talks about the potential productivity loss that a clinic could see if they focus too much on meaningful use and not enough on the business case for implementing an EHR. I think we all know where I stand on this issue. If you don’t, then you should be reading EMR and HIPAA more often;-)

One of my concerns regarding a “stimulus focus” (i.e., an incentive money fixation) in lieu of a broader “business case focus” goes like this, if you will permit what may be a simplistic example:


[1] an average 2 minutes additional MU documentation burden per chart (that’s only 6 seconds on average to navigate to/”touch”/verify/enter each of the requisite 20 measures as needed for each patient during the attestation period);

[2] 100 patients seen per week, 50 weeks per year, or 5,000 charts touched annually;

[3] That’s 10,000 minutes, or ~167 hours;

[4] Multiply by a blended, fully G&A cost-multiplied FTE rate of $40/hour;

[5] 167 hrs/yr x $40/hr x five years = $33,400 MU labor,

exclusive of the FTE burden associated with the additional CQM reporting (“Clinical Quality Measures”). Now, recall that the max provider Medicare MU incentive reimbursement over the 5 years is $44,000 (and that money will be taxable income).

Worth it? Draw your own conclusions. Play with the input assumptions.

Now, obviously, the task (from my REC Adoption Support perspective) is to so effectively re-design workflow as to totally mitigate/eliminate any additional MU documentation burden while streamlining workflow ops more broadly, so that the MU incentive money is neither effectively erased nor appreciably diminished by all of this, and the provider is better off both financially and in terms of care quality and patient satisfaction.

We shall see, I guess.

While my illustrative scenario proffered above is rather simple and to a degree hypothetical, it is nonetheless based to a degree on my own playing around, stopwatch at the ready, in a “sandbox” e-MDs login provided us by the vendor, noting the navigation paths to the various MU “money field” target destinations.

A few seconds here or there, annualized, adds up quickly.