Majority of Hospitals Registered for MU – But Should We Be Happy?

Rolling out Meaningful Use-friendly EMRs has got to be one of the most risky, difficult and frustrating projects the hospital industry has faced in decades. When’s the last time hospitals were coerced into spending millions on still-evolving technology — whose development process was being guided by a federal committee?

Sure, momentum seems to be building. As of November, CMS reported that 57 percent of the 5,011 hospitals eligible to participate in the MU program had registered, though only 769 had attested.  To me that’s a clear sign that MU won’t be junked in the Big Museum of Failed Government Programs.

That being said, I’m still not convinced that getting involved with MU is a sign that hospitals are truly prepared to squeeze value out of their EMR investment.

In fact, given the relative haste with which hospitals have had to move to meet deadlines, I’d argue that being registered may more be a sign that hospitals were forced to do a shoddy install and aren’t well-prepared for the future.

Look at it this way.  Just throw a stone at a HIMSS event and you’ll hit a hospital CIO who’s worried about meeting future MU targets, spending too much to get consultant help in meeting them, or pulling staff off of other vital projects to get compliant.

As if that weren’t enough of a drain, hospitals also have the joy of knowing that various stages of MU rules could force them to rethink their existing deployments quickly.  And that their EMR-related mobile strategies still need work (after all, tablets aren’t always working out). And that they could be in bug fix and patch hell for years due to rushed, half-baked releases from EMR vendors. And so on.

I guess what I’m saying, in short, is that I continue to be a big MU skeptic.  I know, I’m probably wasting my breath at this point, but it seems to me that somebody ought to keep pointing out the obvious: that a standard set by committee and managed by a regulatory process may not lead to good IT. Just sayin’.

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.

2 Comments

  • “… a standard set by committee and managed by a regulatory process may not lead to good IT. Just sayin’.”

    Amen. Not to mention that “good IT” is not the objective … more effective clinical effectiveness and efficiency is.

    If only 769/5011 = 15.3 % attested to what is admitedly pretty lame MU stage 1 criteria … makes you wonder how another two thousand registered hospitals couldn’t pass muster so far. That’s not inspiring.

    There still a greater than likely chance that HITECH will still find itself on the shelf reserved for it in the Failed Government Program Museum because at the end of the day …

    … if HITECH as measured by ONC defined MU does not put HCOs on a tragectory yielding the improved clinical effectiveness and efficiency as promised by the HITECH legionaires … then was it worth the rushed investment?

  • MU is fraught with challenges, especially those parts which add nothing to patient care or quality of care. There are some parts that enhance patient interaction. It is going to be very expensive to update legacy systems in hospitals and clinics. Money that could go to better patient care. Staff/patient ratios, etc.

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