EMR Stimulus Questions and Answers

One of the challenges of this blog is writing content that will be interesting and useful to a wide variety of readers. At times I think I assume that those visiting EMR and HIPAA have read my 770 previous posts and should have a good understanding about the EMR world.

Of course, the reality is that many of the people visiting this site might only read a couple different posts. Even more significant is that they might only have a remedial understanding of EMR and in particular the EMR stimulus money. This leaves me with the challenge of keeping the long time readers interested and benefiting from the content I create while still helping the EMR newbies understand what they need to know.

In that vein, here’s some questions that I got in an email about meaningful use and the EMR stimulus. Those of you well versed in the EMR stimulus can go and enjoy EMR and EHR or add some content to the EMR wiki while I do what I can to answer.

Are there governing bodies that have been set up to “certify” EMR/EHR software vendors?
Not yet. The government hasn’t recognized any bodies that will certify EMR/EHR per the ARRA requirements. They’ve published some guidelines and rules for those bodies, but HHS has yet to recognize any of them as official ARRA EMR Stimulus certifying bodies. I expect by end of summer we’ll have a couple to choose from. The Drummond Group and CCHIT are both planning to be EHR certifying bodies, but neither has been officially recognized yet.

Do EMR/EHR software vendors have to be “certified”? If they are not “certified”, does this prevent their customers from receiving federal money?
In most cases the EMR/EHR software vendor is the one that will be certified. There has been some provisions and discussions about allowing for 2 other EHR certification options beyond just using a “fully certified EHR” software.

The first is that you could use a combination of certified software vendors. For example, you might use one certified EMR vendor for everything but ePrescribing and then you’ll choose another software vendor who is only certified for the ePrescribing portion. It seems that this type of combo certification will be allowed.

The second is what’s been called a site certification. This would essentially be where a specific site (or location) would be certified against the EHR certification criteria. This is best illustrated by a hospital or clinic which has their own home grown EMR software. This EHR site certification would allow them to certify their site and give them access to the EMR stimulus money. It’s possible that an option like this won’t be available, but from what I can tell it’s looking like it will happen.

Do you think that it is possible to satisfy the Stage 1 objectives?
This is a loaded question. The short answer is that everything is possible. Whether it’s possible or not is not as important as whether doctors will do it or not. This question is hard to answer right now. Mostly because we’re missing a lot of the practical meaningful use details which doctors need to know in order to make a decision.

My gut feeling tells me that it will go about like PQRI stimulus money. Some will get the EMR stimulus and be happy. The same number will try for it and be really disappointed by the whole process. More will say it’s just not worth my time right now. That’s not to say that many of these doctors won’t (or shouldn’t) implement an EMR. I think many of them will, but they’ll do it for the inherent benefits of EMR software and not for the EMR stimulus money.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.


  • John –
    I think that this kind of review post is an excellent idea. The current EMR/EHR environment is in such flux that a review of even “basic” questions or topics is helpful. Even the most basic definitions seem to be constantly changing or are referenced in ways that make their actual meaning confusing.

  • Thanks Frank. Glad you like it. It’s fun for me to answer questions. That’s why I love being on panels at conferences too.

  • Hey John,
    This last sentence is a major concern of mine “I think many of them will, but they’ll do it for the inherent benefits of EMR software and not for the EMR stimulus money.”
    Based on the calls and emails I get, it is easy to see that a whole lot of Docs are worried and have little understanding of MU. Many of them are going to jump into a system because they want the money or because they fear being penalized. In the end I fear a higher number of failed implementations than we currently have. Nobody really knows how this will all turn out, but unfortunately I have seen few comments that are optimistic.

  • Thanks for the information, a very useful post! A lot of information floating out there about MU and it’s nice to see the basics in Q&A format.

  • Brad,
    Yes, I have that fear too. In fact, I’ve written about it a few times. Sadly even a small number of doctors that do this could do tremendous damage. However, I’ve been impressed with many doctors who are interested in the stimulus money, but the more they learn the more cautious about it they become. Granted I may be a little bias since many of the doctors I talk to read my site and so they have quality information unlike many of the other doctors out there.

    Glad you like it. Feel free to send in more questions and I’ll use them for future posts.

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