In my reading, I heard someone bring up an interesting problem with meaningful use stages. As most of you are familiar, the stage 1 meaningful use criteria really focuses on EMR’s having the ability to share patient information, but doesn’t actually require them to share information. In stage 2 and stage 3, my understanding is that the requirements to start sharing this clinical information will be a major part of the criteria.
With that understanding, let’s imagine a clinical office spends more than they should on a certified EHR and show stage 1 meaningful use. No doubt they spent a fair amount of time dealing with the reporting requirements of stage 1 meaningful use. As with any EMR implementation they made a lot of changes in their office and for the most part their satisfied with getting the EMR stimulus money the first year.
Well, stage 2 meaningful use rolls in and now they’re required to start sending their patient data to some state designated HIE (or other similar entity). What’s going to happen if their state doesn’t have an HIE where they can send the data? Or what if you’re from a small state like Delaware or Montana (small in people) and your EMR vendor decides that they’re not going to build the features required for you to interact with your state EMR?
Scenarios like this make meaningful use and the EMR stimulus really messy. Of course, that’s why I keep repeating my mantra, “Don’t implement an EMR for the EMR stimulus money. Implement it because it’s the right thing to do for your clinic. Use the EMR stimulus as a nice bonus if all goes well.”