ARRA’s Effect on EMR Reporting Versus Functionality

I was just reading through Jamie’s post on EMR and EHR talking about showing EMR “meaningful use” and EMR reporting. She provides some really interesting examples about the challenges of reporting out of an EMR that wasn’t designed to report those various data elements.

This discussion caused me to think about the impact that having to report on meaningful use will have on an EMR implementation. An EMR implementation is hard enough as it is now. Now, not only will an EMR user have to focus on learning all the new EMR functionality and translating their various clinical workflows into an EMR workflow, but they’ll also have to take into consideration the reporting requirements that will be necessary to get access to the EMR stimulus money and show meaningful use.

Certainly some of this planning could be a good thing and probably should have been done regardless of whether a doctor wanted EMR stimulus money or not. However, anyone that’s had to deal with reporting knows that it takes a lot of work and planning to get it right.

It will be interesting to see how much of an impact these reporting requirements will have on the already abysmal successful EMR implementation success rates. Granted, most doctors implementing an EMR won’t properly address these requirements during implementation and will just suffer the consequences of not showing meaningful use when that time comes.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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.


  • There will be numerous challenges with the meaningful use criteria to get those Stimulus $$$, esp. trying to get reports out of legacy SW that was originally not designed to support such. What I wonder is why one can not simply apply a discrete “wrapper/layer” to the existing app that will allow one to extract such reports?

    Another thing that is really starting to bother me and John you are not the only one doing this, all the vendors are as well is; equating EMR to EHR. These are very different terms and legislators purposely chose EHR to differentiate it from closed legacy apps that are so prevalent today.

    Let’s get the language straight, shall we.

    Keep up the good work John

  • You could build a “wrapper/layer” around existing apps, but it’s expensive and it’s far from ideal. I expect some will do this, but it will often be cheaper to just replace the system.

    Oh yes, the eternal debate of EMR versus EHR. Maybe you don’t remember my rant about those 2 terms:

    I think they’re best used synonymously. EHR is the IN thing to do and that’s what the legislatures used. However, to me it makes no difference. It’s just interesting fodder for conversation. It is a good question which is why I added a page for the difference to the EMR, EHR and HIPAA wiki: However, I think that every EMR company out there could make a reasonably legitimate argument that they’re an EHR system. Let’s hope “meaningful use” is based upon results and actions and not just how a company chooses to brand themselves.

    Personally for this blog, I switch between the two terms to drive more traffic to the site. I don’t think doctors care between the two terms. They’ll use them synonymously as well.

    Also, I prefer to use EMR since spell check programs like to auto correct EHR to her.

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