Meaningful EHR Use Timeline

I saw a link go across my Twitter feed called “The Meaningful Use Timeline.” The title of course was interesting and so I had to check it out.

The basic idea presented is a big image showing the potential time frame required for doctors wanting to become a Meaningful EHR user in order to cash in on the EHR stimulus from the HITECH act.

The conclusion of the article is that you can show meaningful EHR use by 2011, but you need to start now.

Until we really know what HHS is going to require of an EHR user to receive some EHR stimulus money, then it’s really hard to guess how long a user will need to have used an EHR to show meaningful use. However, it’s more than reasonable to make a goal of implementing an EHR by 2011.

I personally implemented a local doctor starting a new office in about a month and a half. Would have been much faster, but we took our time to look through the EHR and make a decision on which one to implement. I’m not necessarily suggesting this as an EMR implementation model for all doctors, but mostly saying that it’s possible to implement an EMR very quickly when necessary.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • The arduous learning curve described in the graphic seems based on traditional EMRs. Cognizant of this poor history, we have tried to streamline the process everywhere we can. The steps can be seen thusly:
    1. EHR selection decision. This can be as long or as quick as you’d like. Cost vs. free is an element here. I have noticed that larger organizations have a more systematic committee-driven EHR selection process, RFPs, etc. Individuals are able to make decisions much more quickly. When the system is free, the financial risks are low – try it, see if you like it, change if you want to, don’t worry about being out any cash in the process.
    2. Installation. If the decision is to install a client/server system, then hardware, vendor support, network setup, etc will have to be encumbered. If the system is web-based, then all that goes away. Just internet-connected computers (Windows, Mac, Linux), and you’re ready to go. We built a very fast provisioning process, where, once you have a web-connected computer, you can start to use the system literally within a few minutes. Uploading patient demographic data from prior systems (like billing systems) can be done within a day.
    3. Learning curve. This is a function of the usability, or user experience, of the system chosen. Since the historic certification body (CCHIT) did not use “usability” as a criteria set, some user interfaces of CCHIT-certified EHRs are very burdensome. When designing an EHR, great attention must be paid to this – how long does it take to do specific workflow tasks, and low long does it take to learn how to use the tool? With a web-based system, modifications and improvements can be made fairly easily, without having to worry about product upgrades locally (“can you survive migration from version 5.0 to version 5.5?”). Are there learning videos in the product? Is there online support? Do you have to wait for on-site support? These are all questions that impact the learning curve.
    4. Meaningful use. Using the EHR system as an ordinary way of moving through one’s daily clinical work-life can potentially be within a few days of making the decision, if a web-based, hosted, intuitive and supported EHR system is chosen. We continue to build our offering along these lines. I am sure others will develop systems with this orientation as well – they are by all means welcome; it will improve the state of EHR options across the country. And that is what we all want.

    Robert Rowley, MD
    Chief Medical Officer
    Practice Fusion, Inc.

  • Dr. Rowley,
    Does that meant that Practice Fusion will be working to be able to make sure that Practice Fusion meets whatever HHS defines as a certified EHR and provide their doctors all the tools they’ll need to show that they are using Practice Fusion to show meaningful use?

    Might still be early to answer this since we don’t know which certification will be chosen and what reporting requirements HHS will make, but I’m guessing you’ll have an idea of if this is going to be part of Practice Fusions plans or not.

  • Oh yes, and I agree the time line is flexible. Like I said above, I implemented one office in a month or so and they’ve been doing great.

    However, the one area I suggest not rushing is the selection phase of the process. Luckily, this doctor had myself to help them select an EHR. However, building that trust in someone to trust that their going to help you select what will become the backbone of your business/practice definitely isn’t simple.

  • we perform mobile podiatry and the template we use on our patient encounters does not fit only EMR we have looked at for our practice. There was one system that got close but not a real cookie. We use docu -form assisted living medical podiatry form with a patient encounter , billing sheet and carbon copy all in one. Big question do we have to go EMR , because we have not fond a soft ware that can fit that template model of the doc u form in their soft ware system.

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