Access to EMR Stimulus Money

It’s going to be a really interesting next couple months in the world of EMR sales. I have a feeling that doctors are going to hear everything imaginable from the various EMR salespeople they meet. I’ve already talked about an EMR vendor talking about being EMR stimulus ready. I think that’s a good plan for EMR vendors and will be the minimum expectation for most doctors. Probably shouldn’t be (at least for small practices), but I think that it will be. Doctors will likely want to know they at least have a chance. Most doctors are going to want to know the answer to the question, “Can your EMR software get me the HITECH act stimulus money?” EMR vendors better be prepared to answer.

The problem is that few doctors will be prepared to know if the answer they receive is factual or not. So, I’d love for people to share what they hear from EMR salespeople in the comments of this post. I’m sure we’re going to get some crazy ones, but hopefully we’ll also get some stories of quality EMR salespeople as well. Hopefully together we can help each other out and debunk any “EMR sales miscommunications” that might be happening. Especially things said by EMR salespeople about the potential EMR stimulus money.

My favorite thing I hear (although, I guess in many ways it’s my least favorite) is when an EMR salesperson says, “The government has mandated use of an EMR.” This is just not true. I’m not sure they even could mandate it’s use, but even if they could they haven’t.

If we get enough good questions, I’ll highlight them in a future post.

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.


  • The amount of crap that is being spewed at practices is just mind boggling.

    I hope at some point sanity will return and small practices will see the truth and realize that for most small practices this ARRA “Meaningful Use” will simply add costs for software, training, support and the largest piece increased labor cost.

    I know of an EMR vendor that received a certified letter giving them 60 days to comply and become medicare certified!!

    The larger vendors that pushed for this legislation will profit the most and the majority of small practices that attempt to meet these requirements will fail.

    How do i know this? I have worked in the small practice EMR space for the last 15 years and this will fail because the only aspect of the program that has been defined is the amount of $$$. How to get the $$ is unknown.

    I remember in the old days working on Malcolm Baldridge quality programs for a company and we used the RUMBA method for evaluating business processes. Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Believable, Achievable.

    The ARRA is not reasonable, nobody understands it, the measures are unknown, how can you believe in something that has not been fully defined and you cannot achieve RUMBA without the first 4.

  • I’m an EMR vendor, and I rarely even mention the stimulus money, and when I do, it’s not a “reason” to get an EMR, just a benefit if they actually do get any money back at all.

    I’m not pushy about the sale at ALL either, most clients have come to me, I assess their needs and we go from there.

  • You have a similar blog about this: “Interesting HITECH Act Scenario

    …Let’s say it comes time for the practice to prove “meaningful use” in order to receive their reimbursement. Unfortunately, something about the way they are documenting in the EHR excludes them from being able to show “meaningful use” (hard to give a specific example until we know what that means) and therefore excludes them from getting any of the hoped for $44k of reimbursement money…

    In my opinion it is up for the government auditor for meaningful use to award an EMR system if it really is doing its job. Otherwise, the approval process must be in the form of “yes or no” and not in “ifs and but”. My 2 cents.


  • I’m sure there are EMR vendors pushing the whole “get $40K back from the govt”, but as you’ve said before, exactly HOW do you get that money? I don’t even really know, so I’m not going to make my potential clients think it’s like clicking a paypal button to get the cash back! 🙂

  • JP,
    Glad to know that you’ve read more of my posts;-)

    Thanks for connecting the previous posts. There’s no doubt that situation is still going to happen. In fact with hundreds of pages of details on meaningful use and still little detail on how they’re going to check the objectives, this looks even more likely.

    The problem with a government auditor making a decision is that it’s ripe for corruption. Although, maybe you can’t get away from this easily unless you open up the floodgates so pretty much everyone qualifies.

    Well said. I’m working on a post about the HOW (or lack therof) in the documents. I think I’ll use the PayPal example.

  • Not to defend aggressive salespeople, but with the penalties that kick in after 2015, the government effectively HAS mandated the use of an EMR. This is the one aspect of the program that very few people talk about.

  • AW,

    With all due respect, the aspect that very few talk about is the additional labor cost and the lost opportunity cost that will result from implementation of these systems, especially small in practices.

    The least costly path for small practices will be the penalty. Implemenation for small practices will cost more than the penalty. We will not know how much until the guidelines are actually defined.

    As John has pointed out in many blog posts, the funds are irrelevent. EMR is not mandated and should only be implemented to address the needs of the practice.

  • The way I look at this is: I would not be caring about the incentives and proving its meaningful use. If I have a practice I would definitely implement EMR and PMS in light of its advantages; which are process automation, efficient prescribing, quick historical info retrieval, data mining and all the benefits of computerization. That’s my meaningful use, the practice wins, the patient wins, the fed is happy . The incentive, as for me, is just extra. If I get it then I’m happier, otherwise, I’m OK.

    I’m more concerned about the fed requiring a “certified” EMR implementation. I would not want to be penalized through the medical reimbursements if my efficient EMR system, which was cost-effective for my practice, is not certified.


  • JP,
    I agree with you. the ‘certified’ label simply drives the cost up to the practice and will increase overall cost to the practice.

    Our EMR system already has data mining and will help meaningful use reporting. Our providers should be able to use our system to meet meaningful use without having to be penalized financially.

  • We are in the process of reviewing vendors. Had one come and when we asked about a quote he said something like “well let’s see you have 6 docs and each will get $44k, shouldn’t be much more than that”!

  • AW,
    One way to look at it is that it’s better to implement an EMR that will improve your efficiency/reimbursement/etc by 10% and take the 1-5% penalty on Medicare charges than it is to implement a certified EMR and spend time showing “meaningful use” just to find out that you lose 10% productivity and hate the EMR you were required to implement. This won’t be all of those who go after stimulus money, but I expect we’re going to hear this story over and over again.

  • JP and Joe,
    The stimulus money requires “certified EMR” and “meaningful use.” Nothing else I know requires it. Well, except that saying “certified EMR” has some marketing value attached to it. However, that’s a very different reason to get certified.

  • John,

    This “certification” stuff is actually quite interesting. Are there any other industry examples of private sector software certification mandates?

    As I’ve stated before, I can understand the large EMR software incumbents lobbying for “utility company” like status.

    Can anyone comment on the politics of the whole thing?

    Silverlight PM+EMR waiting for the dust to settle.

  • AXEO,
    I think the closest you can find to this is the medical device industry. Although, that’s a bit different in my book, but there are some similarities.

    Do a search on Al Borges and EMR and you’ll find all sorts of interesting stuff he’s posted about the politics related to EHR certification.

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