Meaningful Use 2012 Predictions – Meaningful Use Monday

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to take some time over the next week or so to look ahead to 2012 and discuss what I think is going to happen in the world of EMR and health IT. Since today is the regularly scheduled Meaningful Use Monday, I decided that it would be appropriate to take a look forward at Meaningful Use in 2012.

In many ways, 2012 is not going to see any major public shifts in meaningful use. Sure, we’re going to learn more about meaningful use stage 2, we’re also going to finally get out of the temporary EHR certification to the permanent EHR certification (unless something crazy happens). Although, I don’t think either of those things are going to make much real difference in the lives of doctors. Instead, there’s going to be an undercurrent of other trends that shape the future of EHR incentives and meaningful use.

Here we go:

Doctors First Hand Experiences – As Dr. Koriwchak notes in his physician perspective on meaningful use, there aren’t that many first hand experiences out there from physicians discussing their experience with meaningful use. Most of what you find out there are physicians that have been asked by their EHR vendor to be the face of that EHR vendor’s meaningful use efforts.

In 2012, whether published publicly or heard through the grapevine, doctors first hand experience with EMR implementations, EHR incentive and meaningful use are going to start filtering through the medical community. I bet Dr. Koriwchak isn’t going to be alone in his assessment that basically, I survived meaningful use, but recommend staying away. If this is the message about meaningful use that spreads, then expect more people like Dr. West opting out of Medicare or just accepting the possible EHR penalties.

Meaningful Use Audits – We know that audits of those who took EHR incentive money are coming. I think that CMS (I think they have authority over this, right?) will be generous with their audits. They won’t make it easy and fun for the person who gets audited and fails. However, I don’t think they’re going to try and make a public disgrace of those that have their meaningful use attestation audited. Doing so would set back the entire program. Instead I think CMS will try and spread the message that they’re serious about honest meaningful use attestation, but that they’ll be reasonable in their approach.

Checks Flowing Ok, so it won’t really be checks since most of the payments are going to be wired into doctors bank accounts, but you get the idea. Either way, there’s going to be a lot of doctors that are finally going to get paid for their EHR effort in 2012. This will no doubt invoke some portion of envy in their physician peers. I know I’d hate having my doctor friend getting a check and me not getting it. I felt this same way when people were buying houses and getting the government money for buying a house a couple years ago. Doctors won’t be immune to this sort of “jealousy” of their peers.

The real question is whether the money flowing will be a stronger force on EHR adoption or whether the above mentioned meaningful use pains will be stronger. As you see in my next two predictions, I think it is a split verdict.

Hospitals Capitalize – My best prediction is that hospitals will see the money flowing and be unable to resist following the money line. We’ve already largely seen this shift in hospitals IT projects. I know a number of healthcare entrepreneurs who have said that hospitals aren’t really doing any major IT projects outside of meaningful use. Hospitals will continue this trend and will likely end up taking the majority of the EHR stimulus money that’s being paid out.

Small Doctors Offices Stay Away – As I wrote about previously, most EHR incentive money is being paid to existing EHR users. In 2012 we’ll be moving past those existing EHR users and I predict that most small doctors offices will continue to sit on the sideline of EHR. The money isn’t large enough for small doctors to overcome all the work required for them to implement an EHR and the EHR penalties are a drop in the bucket for most of these doctors.

I imagine that many will be thinking, “What about the other EHR benefits beyond EHR stimulus money?” To that I’d say, you’re absolutely right. There are plenty of other benefits to having an EHR that don’t include government money for EHR. Unfortunately, the free government money has created this myopic view of the world where those other benefits have lost all their appeal.

Ok, you’re turn. Any other things you see happening with meaningful use in 2012? Any of my meaningful use predictions that you disagree with?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.

9 Comments

  • My prediction follows on yours, regarding audits. I think that a lot of people are going to regret having checked the ‘Yes’ box on the HIPAA Security section, based on their IT guy telling them it was good to go. We have seen the eyes widen when we start going though the four-page checklist, especially those who have already attested.

    I also think that as awareness grows about the requirements, you will see some infrastructure spending related to back-ups, archiving and, if all those Linksys networks out there indicate anything, wireless.

  • The thing that continues to gnaw at me about Meaningful Use is that it has little to do with users. That is why a hospital can see their productivity drop due to EHR and still meet Meaningful Use. Somehow, it seems like a contradiction in terms and is certainly a contradiction in business intent.

  • CMS has started the audit process. They’ve hired a CPA firm to look at the claims and also started an appeals process.

    I have a feeling they will regret hiring a CPA firm to look at MU claims. Financial auditors will require a lot of training in MU specifically and EMRs in general. They would have been better off looking for IT types with an EMR background.

    It’s going to be interesting to see the types of cases that become public.

  • “They’ve hired a CPA firm to look at the claims and also started an appeals process.”

    We go back and forth on this. I think it’s borderline idiotic, my business partner thinks someone who’s used to putting together paperwork for the IRS might not be a terrible choice. Bottom-line, though, they generally won’t have any idea what they’er looking at.

  • Matt,
    They just need one high profile case to get in trouble, then everyone else will look into that requirement and comply no? That’s one of those things that you can do in the future and no one would really necessarily know when you did it, no? It’s not like ePrescribing where it’s quite clear that you wrote the script on paper as opposed to ePrescribing it.

  • I don’t think I’ll be jealous of any of my peers getting MU checks when I’m sitting home at night relaxing in my bathrobe and lounge pants playing around while my peers worked extra hours clicking checkboxes and drop-down menus endlessly to make an extra $25/day for 5 years.

  • T. Pham,
    Good point. Virtualization will continue in health IT. There are probably a number of other IT related trends that I didn’t cover in this article. Maybe I’ll have to do one on that since I am an IT guy by background.

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