Effect of EMR Stimulus Money Flowing

Posted on May 20, 2011 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.

Yesterday on EMR News, we posted about the first case I’ve seen where someone has collected EHR stimulus money after attesting to meaningful use.

It’s the day many have been waiting for. The first checks arrive for those showing meaningful use of a certified EHR (Medicaid had sent some EHR Stimulus checks previously). Yes, the government really is going to pay out the money. Yes, people really are getting paid. In fact, it seems that they’ve pretty much stuck to their schedule for meaningful use stage 1 and paying out the first EHR stimulus checks. Props to the people at CMS and ONC for being able to stick to that schedule (even if meaningful use stage 2 might be delayed).

I do have to say that an electronic bank transfer isn’t nearly as exciting as a check in the mail. Plus, a picture of someone checking their online banking isn’t as compelling as a picture of someone with a check. So, technology has hurt the visible image that would illustrate this occasion. However, the “shovel ready” ARRA stimulus money has started to flow (sorry I had to point out the irony of “shovel ready” or lack therof).

Since seeing the news, I’ve wondered whether the cash flowing will have the impact on doctors that one would expect. Will doctors start saying, “I want to get my EMR stimulus check!”? Certainly the cash has just started flowing and so we can’t fully assess the impact of these first checks. However, I personally think that the cash flowing will provide little momentum to EHR adoption.

First, from those I interact with, there aren’t that many fence sitters. Most have already decided to do EMR or not to do EMR. The flow of money would be great to get the fence sitters off the fence, but I don’t believe it’s strong enough to get those against EMR to finally go for it.

Second, the lack of certainty around meaningful use stage 2 and 3 is a major concern. Most people aren’t and shouldn’t be concerned with the payments for meaningful use stage 1 (unlike PQRI incentives). Why should they be? After all, it’s a self attestation process for meaningful use stage 1. Check the right check boxes and give them the right numbers and you get paid. However, the same certainty isn’t available around MU stage 2 and 3. We don’t know how it will be measured nor what it will include.

Third, it takes real time for the word of mouth discussions between doctors to disperse in the medical community. Will the message of stimulus money get out quickly enough for it to matter to most doctors who are mostly against an EHR?

It’s great to see the EHR stimulus money flowing. We’re still in a wonderful EHR and healthcare IT bubble that will continue for at least another couple years. However, EHR incentive money flowing isn’t going to contribute much to that bubble.