EHR Usability Will Be Part of Meaningful Use Stage 2 – #HIMSS11

In probably the biggest news of the day at HIMSS, we got the following tweet spreading quickly through the Twittersphere:!/techguy/status/39359393585700864

There you have it. Word out of ONC is that meaningful use stage 2 will include some form of EHR usability. How that will be, I don’t think even ONC knows. Although, I’m sure they’ll consider looking at the EHR usability that’s already in CCHIT.

What I don’t understand is why they would do this. First, it should be part of the EHR certification and not meaningful use (maybe it was a mistweet). Why would ONC want to measure an EHR’s usability during meaningful use? That’s too late, no? Although, maybe it’s just ONC trying to collect data for other doctors that will select an EHR later? I don’t understand it.

Plus, let’s look at the EHR usability that’s been done by CCHIT. Has it really improved the usability of EHR systems?

I asked someone at HIMSS this question, and they said something like, “Of course not.”

We all want the EHR software to be usable. I just don’t understand how ONC adding it to meaningful use stage 2 will help achieve that goal.’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.

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John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, 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.


  • I was in that session and it was a slight mistweet. They discussed adding usability testing to the Stage 2 certification process. Almost everyone in the room was a vendor or vendor consultant, so to us, EHR certification = meaningful use LOL

    You can see Dr. Friedman’s presentation here:

    The key slide on page 5 has exactly what he said (and he would not say more):

    “We are exploring options for stimulating a competitive
    market that will improve usability and thus safety of EHR systems. Working with NIST, AHRQ, and key
    stakeholders, we will be actively developing necessary
    criteria and test procedures and will coordinate this
    activity with work on Stage 2 of Meaningful Use.”

  • Perhaps a more reliable metric of EHR usability is that if a lot of providers who buy a package want their money back … it’s probably not very usable. Just sayin.

    The idea the ONC is going to have a clue as to what is usable and what isn’t is laughable. They ain’t buyin.

    Looks like another case of the Administration picking winners to me.

  • I don’t think it’s the administration picking winners as much as the government trying to do some good things with good intents, but without the tools to be able to do those things.

  • Oh that makes me feel lots better knowing they have the talent and experience to determine what passes the usability test … given that they aren’t users.

    They’ll probably hire consultants who will tell then what is acceptable use limitations and then get the ATCB’s to ‘evaluate’ the packages.

    Just another “meaningless use” expense that the providers will pay and pass on to their customers.

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