Meaningful Use Attestation: GE Admits Problems with Two Centricity Products

If you have been using GE Healthcare’s Centricity Practice Solution or Centricity Electronic Medical Record solution to demonstrate Meaningful Use, you might be in for something of a rude shock. According to an InformationWeek Healthcare story by Neil Versel,

“Some customers of GE Healthcare may not be able to achieve Meaningful Use with their current electronic health records (EMR) systems, as the vendor has discovered “inaccuracies” in its software’s reporting functions.”

According to Versel, GE admitted the problem in a letter that went out to users of the two Centricity products on Thursday and promised a solution by end-November. At the time the InformationWeek story was written, this GE link was not working, but is now. In the document, GE details exactly where its reporting was going wrong. It appears as if the problems lay in the following areas:
– the default race and ethnicity provided by GE’s Centricity products didn’t always map exactly to OMB’s race and ethnicity categories (as an example, GE’s Centricity provided for a single Multi-Racial category, whereas OMB requires that a multiracial person be allowed to select as many races as s/he wants)
– inaccurate recording of smoking status
– inadequate training of doctors on educating their patients about medications

Among the recommendations put forward by GE:

– If you’ve already attested for 2011, run reports again for attestation period once GE issues its software update. If the results don’t match up,
a) check if you clear all applicable Meaningful Use thresholds for the original period
b) check if you meet thresholds for all applicable measures

– If you haven’t attested for 2011, hold off on attesting till GE issues its updates.

– Prospectively follow GE’s recommendations for the rest of the year

While the GE letter points out there is still time till Feb 29, 2012 for 2011 attestations, these were my first reactions to reading this piece of news:
– Even a Stage 1 Meaningful Use certified software from a well-known company is not immune to inaccuracies in reporting

– It might seem like a trivial change to move from “Multi-racial” to allowing multiple check-boxes for races, but it could mean the difference between demonstrating MU and not being able to. From GE’s perspective, I would want to know why these small-seeming errors were not caught at the time these Centricity products were Stage 1 MU certified

– How many/what percentage of Centricity EMR and Practice Solution users were affected? It’s not very clear/GE doesn’t say.

– The letter and recommendations don’t show up on GE Healthcare website, and to me it’s also quite interesting that a story like this doesn’t have any hits beyond the InformationWeek article.

– Are there any recourses apart from following GE directives? Maybe if you have softwares other than GE’s Centricity, maybe you can cross-check your results. But I don’t know how many practices actually can afford two or more EMRs. So this really might be a worthless suggestion, unless you can press one of those free EMRs into service!

Full Disclosure: GE is an advertiser on this site, but I’m not sure Priya Ramachandran knew that when she wrote this article.

About the author


Priya Ramachandran

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.


  • As a representative of GE Healthcare, I want to address some of the points raised in the article above.

    As our letter to customers points out, GE discovered some inaccuracies with reports which may impact customers who have attested or are planning to attest for Meaningful Use. We are being open with our customers and want to reassure them that we are updating the reports to support customers seeking 2011 Meaningful Use incentives.

    The document cited in the article calls out changes in the workflow for some practitioners regarding how they should record race, ethnicity and smoking status, and how they should provide educational resources if they wish to use those reports. These changes in the workflow are to ensure that the revised reports will accurately track progress on the applicable Meaningful Use measures. For details on which reports have changed and how they have changed, I encourage our customers to wait for the release notes that will accompany the updated reporting. We are targeting having all reports updated by the end of November.

    Customers on Centricity Practice Solution 9.5, Centricity Practice Solution 10.0 and Centricity Electronic Medical Record 9.5 should have received a copy of the letter linked from Information Week article. I encourage you to read it carefully as that letter and the linked document are the most accurate sources of information. If you did not receive that letter or have additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me at

  • Jay Roxe,
    Thanks for stopping by and clarifying. I actually just so happened to meet with GE today or yesterday at MGMA and talked about what happened.

    I’ll actually likely be posting a follow up post to the above to talk about the implications of what happened, how it is likely to happen for many more EHR vendors and other related questions.

    As far as I can tell, I do give credit to GE for being open about what happened, communicated it to their customers and are working to get a solution out there. I have a feeling there are a lot of other EHR vendors that are suffering similar issues and aren’t as public about it.

  • Some of your physicians had to file a hardship exemption that is due Nov 1, 2011 because the EMR software had a “glitch” in Jan-Feb 2011, and April. Therefore, our physicians missed the 10 e-scribe events that were needed to take place January 2011 through June 2011. I question just how much they are really capturing for MU.

  • Sure GE deserves some credit for speaking up…though that’s almost like giving credit to the doc who informs patients of a PHI breach because he as to!

    GEs reports are dorked up. I know first hand as I’ve seen it and been helping practices try to figure out what is going on.

    The Centricity VARs haven’t been able to help.

    Add to that the cave-man-like process Centricity has to pull reports – no dashboard?!? – I expect more from GE…Docs expect more for the amount they pay for this system.

    GE isn’t the only EHR vendor with this issue – if you think you are in the clear, you better look real close at your numbers.

    Obviously being Meaningful Use Certified doesn’t mean being able to properly pull reports for attesting.

  • CCHIT should have a caught the multi-racial issue, as GE’s implementation of the requirement was slightly off the mark (one of the draw-backs of text based requirements; they are open to interpretation). A good example from Jim Tate is some vendors using Microsoft Health Vault to meet the Timely Access requirement; they would upload a document to the website and that would fulfill the requirement as laid out by ONC. This would get them certified but it would be absurd to expect a provider to upload new documentation to a 3rd party website after every visit with a patient; an affront to usability.

    The ONC-ATCB’s do test your ability to calculate MU numbers but it is far from extensive. They basically ask you to record a bunch of a data and ensure that it shows up correctly… then they ask you to make changes recalculate on the fly. It is not possible for them test the myriad scenarios that come with tracking MU measures… but they don’t have to. The providers will look at the dashboard/report almost daily and they will keep the EHR vendor honest. If they feel their measures are not being calculated correctly then the vendor will hear from them.

    Measure tracking is an arduous task for any vendor, I wonder if any are using Pop Health (the open source quality measure implementation) and if that is working well for them?

  • @JW
    Interesting, they required “on the fly” recalcs?

    Funny, another EHR (not Centricity) doesn’t even give docs live data to work with. The do a data pull once a month!

    You can make work flow changes (or use the software properly) YET not know if your changes were any good for weeks.

    They claim you can submit a ticket for a manual data pull…which you can…but their response time is weeks.

    This is a major EHR and not web-based.

    The ONC-ATCB must not be checking those numbers too closely…or the process for making the numbers available to docs.

  • John Brewer,
    The ONC-ATCB only does one check really. It will get really interesting once CMS starts the audits of the meaningful use numbers.

  • They only require one “on the fly” recalc, the results of which can be shown the following day (e.g., if the EHR used a nightly refresh process). You are correct that ONC doesn’t define the intervals at which an EHR must refresh their MU dashboard. In your once per month example, that seems absurd and I’m sure the providers are screaming about it.

    Further, there is no requirement to even auto calculate the data. That’s right some certified vendors could ask their physicians to manually track MU data. I recommended to the HIT group that automated calculation be required in stage 2, but they didn’t take my recommendation.

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m always interested to hear the stories!


Click here to post a comment