Should Meaningful Use be Delayed?

I guess I should have assumed that people would start posing this question. Turns out Jeff Rowe at HITECH Watch (part of Healthcare IT News) has posted the question about delaying the HITECH incentives twice in a week.

I guess it’s a reasonable question to be asked, but my emphatic answer to the question is NO!

It took us plenty long enough to get to this point. The wait for the details of meaningful use and certified EHR was a long enough wait that absolutely slowed the adoption of EMR software. There are“>300-400 EHR companies just waiting for this EHR incentive program to get going. That’s a lot of companies to hold hostage while the government tries to “make meaningful use better.”

Plus, you can quite easily argue that more time won’t actually make meaningful use substantially better. In fact, it seems reasonable to argue that more time could actually make meaningful use much uglier and discouraging for those interested in implementing an EMR.

It is also worth mentioning that there’s kind of a built in year of waiting as is. You get paid the same amount of money whether you show meaningful use starting in 2011 or 2012. The amount is the same and the meaningful use requirements are the same.

Plus, meaningful use stage 1 is already pretty generic when it comes to the reasons Jeff offers for delaying in the above article. Meaningful Use stage 2 is where ONC and CMS should focus on adding in requirements that will help us get closer to the exchange of patient data. Trying to go in and mess with meaningful use stage 1 is a mistake. Not just because the hour is near, but also because it would provide little benefit.

The article linked above had an interesting poll related to this. However, it requires registration and so there had only been one response. Hopefully this poll will get a little bit better response:

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 main reason to delay is because the currently available products–especially for hospital use–are shoddy, full of bugs, poorly designed, mostly built for an outdated technology (PC’s), and proven to reduce efficiency and create new errors.

  • Oh, and I think your comments don’t apply as well to the ambulatory EMR software (at least not all of them). Hospital EMR software may be a different story.

  • Yeah you’re right–not too many good blogs like this about the inpatient EMR situation. If you know of any please share. I do think a delay could change that especially if some creative mobile solutions appear. I’m a big believer in technology which is why it’s so hard to watch EMRs fail in their basic tasks.

  • I’d say that HIStalk is the closest to this one that is more inpatient EMR focused: Obviously, there’s some cross over and he does more news and less specific implementation items than I do.

    I’d be surprised if creative mobile solutions appear in hospitals. I’d say they’re more likely to go after the ambulatory as opposed to hospital. Less politics and less need to have “integrated systems” like most hospitals require.

  • Agreed John: delaying now would be a mistake, especially as we’re so closing to “getting this show on the road.” It would effectively penalize all the early adopters, and sour any trust people originally had in the HITECH program. I would say that I think an extension wouldn’t be a bad idea, depending on how much Stages 2 & 3 rachet up the ante on meaningful use. Still, any change in the timeline would have to go through Congress, and who knows what would happen if it went there.

  • I agree that it should not be delayed.
    Even if it is not perfect or even not great, it encourages the adoption of basic technology that every other industry that I can think of has already adopted. It is a foundation to build upon, not a perfect solution.
    Practices still have plenty of time to adopt EMR and achieve all the incentives.

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