Marc Probst Talks About Meaningful Use

A relatively new reader of EMR and HIPAA, Michael Archuleta, sent me his notes from the Utah Medical Group Managers Association 6/25/09 where the keynote speaker was Marc Probst. For those that don’t know, Marc Probst is the CIO of Intermountain Healthcare (IHC). IHC is huge in Utah and I think it does pretty well in a number of surrounding states as well. Plus, Marc Probst is also a member of the HIT Policy Committee. You may remember that I’ve talked about Marc Probst on EMR and HIPAA a few times before.

Anyway, I found some of the points that Michael captured interesting. I guess in the end I was interested to hear what Marc Probst was telling people. Michael Archuleta’s notes are as follows (published with permission and the emphasis added was mine to highlight some interesting parts):

Mark Probst – Intermountain Health Care – government wants to invest 42 billion in IT healthcare. IHC has 500,000 enrollees, 28,000 employees. 600 physicians. They are a unique integrated health care organization. Feels Obama framed the problem (related to health care, in previous nights TV pitch) well, and wants his plan in by Oct 09. Referred to how IHC is the lowest cost per capita.

Probst has met with 3 congressman and 20 government staffers. Using Mayo Clinic as a benchmark, could save 30 pct in chronic illnesses. There are 300,000 uninsured Utahns.

Four stages of an EMR. Third stage was commercial products. Stage four will have broad adoption of solutions. Second increased knowledge. Third is introduction of clinical decision support. A stage 3 EMR could save a 300 bed hosp at least 11M.

At LDS hospital there were 581 adverse drug events in 1990 and in 2004 there are only 270 . Their stats showed that waiting to 39 weeks (for OB delivery) was best for infants and reduced neonatal admissions. The docs said they knew this already and didn’t induce unnecessarily. But when showing them the data, they were in fact inducing. The same stats showed improved outcome with acute respiratory stress.

150 people are working on a new EMR system (for IHC) with GE and people from India. A complete clinical information system has automation (taking common tasks and automating it like voice, scanning, bar codes. Helps you with inventory management and pricing. Provides automated data entry with hot texting.), connectivity (using a network. Allows doctors to see and share information and this brings more specialists into the picture.), decision support (prompts and alerts for obvious things. Advanced decision support like glucose management and need to push the human mind.), data mining (using historical data to identify patterns and to test hypotheses).

Commercial systems were good at automation and connectivity but were weak on decision support. IHC was good in that area so they decided to build their own hybrid.

Rather than rip and replace, they aggregate, view, analyze, alert and then gradually replace existing systems.

The government HIT policy committee: Meaningful use says that to get money you need a certified system and have meaningful use. There must be a certification and an adoption. Must have the ability to do health information exchange. Time frames are aggressive: They originally thought they had until October to define requirements and then were told by the Obama administration that it was moved up to July 16. It will move from policy to a standards committee.

The intent and commitment of the people involved on the HIT committee is to do the right thing.

Questions from the floor: Doesn’t HIPAA preclude the ability to share information? In his opinion it allows for protection.

How do we get our voices heard? Have to get involved with AMA.

What is meaningful use? Capture discreet data like BMI, weight. Then there is an adoption process.

How will costs go down? If other things are in place, then we will minimize duplications. We may be connected but we can’t talk.

What about CCHIT? It is unclear what their role will be. IHC, for instance, is a hybrid of best of systems. Who would certify us?

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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.


  • IHC has a well-deserved reputation as a leader in quality, so it’s not at all surprising they’d be out front in implementing a world-class EHR.

    But 150 people working on the system, including folks from GE and India?

    That kind of approach simply isn’t possible for the 45% of all US physicians who practice solo or in small groups…and who are running very lean budgets to begin with.

    Web-based EHRs offer far less expensive alternative to legacy systems such as those promoted by GE and used by IHC (in the case of Practice Fusion, the EHR is offered to physicians at no cost at all).

    With such systems, it’s just as easy to overlay quality-improving, cost-reducing decision support to assist physicians at the point of care…in fact arguably, it’s easier since version control is greatly simplified with a Web-based solution.

    At Practice Fusion, we’ve been delighted to read of the work to date by the HIT Policy Committee, and we express thanks to Mr. Probst for his contributions.

    In particular, we look forward to what we believe will be its recommendation to democratize the EHR certification proces. That will enable Web-based EHRs to thrive in the marketplace…a lot more physicians will be able to participate if that happens.

    Thank you,
    Glenn Laffel MD, PhD
    Sr. Vice President Clinical Affairs
    Practice Fusion
    Free Web-based EHR

  • Glenn,
    No doubt the number of developers they have at IHC is many more than a small practice or solo doc would have. Comparing apples and oranges. Although, I’m guessing IHC offers their practices an EMR through some program.

    Certainly web based EHR like Practice Fusion have their benefits. I wrote a long post about Practice Fusion’s free EMR when I first heard about it. Web based is good, but it has its own challenges as well. Just a friendly reminder for my readers who might not be as familiar with the various free EMR and web based EMR models.

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