Recently, David Blumenthal, M.D., Chair of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) stated that the Meaningful Use program and is a “very wise concept” and that the incentives Congress is providing towards reaching these goals is a “novel approach to promoting technology diffusion.” Congress maintains the tax money being spent is for taxpayers’ benefit, and should be properly validated by a series of standards, policies, and procedures.
As I look into Meaningful Use and the process associated with physicians’ practices realizing the incentives, it seems as if a significant pain point is emerging, and its becoming a hindrance to medical practices. Prior to the incentives program, the physicians would want to adopt more healthcare information technology to streamline their practices, make life much simpler for them and their associates, and of course save money and deliver better and more efficient patient care.
Now it seems as if the entire Meaningful Use certification process is making EMR adoption more difficult. CIOs frequently need to send requests to the governing bodies for clarification on how their Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system is supposed to work. The process of physicians finding the right vendor for their practice has become cumbersome, with many physicians having problems implementing the systems that even require self-certification. In a recent Information Week post, Anthony Guerra said, “…wasn’t certification supposed to be a way for unsophisticated EMR buyers — mostly docs shopping for office systems — to be sure they could do everything the government might ultimately require? How does the current self-certification regimen for hospitals do that?”
A medical practice should not have to put in many hours of their own certification work to integrate their new EMR software product into their practice. Providers should be able to implement a certified product and apply for the Meaningful Use incentives. Many of the government mandates surrounding EMR implementation are hurting physician productivity, and many discrepancies still exist in the Meaningful Use objectives. Yet, ONC is still awarding incentives to providers pointing out the inconsistencies. It seems as if the process itself is failing to the “substantial” (as Blumenthal put it) number of physicians who understand Meaningful Use, and how to receive their incentives. Then again, when has it been easy to get any kind of useful stimulus money?