Meaningful Use May Be Slowing Down Hospital EMR/EHR Installs

It’s finally happening. After years of work, hospitals are beginning to qualify for, and even receive, their long-awaited stimulus payments.  On the other hand, having to focus on Meaningful Use seems to have drained a lot of resources and bandwidth away from actual EMR/EHR launches.

Last month CHIME (the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) surveyed 198 members, representing 656 hospitals across the U.S., on how they were doing with the EMR/EHR adoption process.

CHIME found that the nearly all (93 percent) of CIOs surveyed expected to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 1 during the first three years of the MU program, though many are hoping Stage 2 will be delayed so they can catch up.

It also found that the number of CIOs worried about Meaningful Use has fallen — about two-thirds are still worried, down from 90 percent in March 2011 — and that more than half believe their current strategy and apps will get them there.

Thirteen percent of the hospitals responding received incentive payments during the first year of the program, which began October 1, 2010. Four percent got Medicare incentives, while 9 percent were paid by their state’s Medicaid program.

To date, though, just over half of respondents had registered for stimulus funding, and 26 percent had qualified for payments under HITECH, CHIME reports.

Not only that, twenty-one percent of members hadn’t registered because they hadn’t yet bought or installed an EMR/EHR. (Is it really that early in the adoption process still?) It’s particularly surprising among members of CHIME, who seem to be the types who work for more advanced and progressive institutions.

With a full one-fifth of respondents still fretting over compliance and holding off on EMR implementation, is seems cear Meaningful Use has had a paralyzing effect on the process. While it’s spurred some hospitals to action,  it’s arguably slowed down just as many who might be moving ahead otherwise.

Worries about Meaningful Use have created a big, huge cloud of smoke around EMR/EHR adoption. It’s not enough that hospital CIOs have to worry about getting it done — they have to get it done to the government’s standards.

I’m not taking a position on whether Meaningful Use is a good thing long-term, or whether the short-term goals are the right ones. But I think it’s fairly obvious that MU has thrown a serious monkey wrench into the usual systems adoption process. I suppose only time will tell whether it was worth the expense, pain and delays it has caused. Honestly, though, I doubt it.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • Perhaps the same could be said about countless healthcare organizations that say HIPAA compliance is too laborious and costly to meet, yet are slapped with much larger fines and reputation damaging PR because they refused to take the time to undergo the compliance process? It’s a trade-off and ultimately a business planning choice – short or long-term satisfaction?

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