Are All Meaningful Use Implementations Created Equal?

In reaction to my post discussing a physician’s enlightening reaction to meaningful use one commenter highlighted what I think is a really interesting question: Are All Meaningful Use Implementations Created Equal?

The interesting thing is that the doctors comments mentioned above essentially highlight his belief that meaningful use has caused EMR software to not reach its full potential. I’d even take it a step further and say that meaningful use and its sister EHR certification have done much to level the playing field of EHR software. Instead of doctors choosing an EHR based on usability, recommendations, features, functions, workflow, etc etc etc, they’re asking if the vendor is a certified EHR and can get them EHR incentive money.

A cynical view would be that doctors are now evaluating EHR software based on how easily that EHR software can get them EHR incentive money. While this may be the case for some doctors, my feeling is that it’s not a widespread pandemic problem.

We can all be certain that doctors are evaluating meaningful use as a major component of their EHR selection process. Every EHR vendor I’ve talked to has said this, so it must be true. Since meaningful use is a standard set by the government and certified EHR software requires a certain set of standards, does that mean that in that list of requirements all EHR software are basically equal?

The answer is an emphatic: NO!

I can assure you that some EHR software vendors have slapped in the meaningful use requirements as quick as they could get it in there. I’m sure that some rushed it just to be able to say they were the first. The first to what I don’t know. In many ways, being the first to be a certified EHR with meaningful use baked in could be considered a badge of shame. Instead, if I were a doctor I’d want an EHR vendor that took their time and implemented meaningful use in a thoughtful way that will be as seamless and non-intrusive as possible.

I still love what Conan Fong and Kyna Fong of ElationEMR said to me about meaningful use and EHR certification: We’re trying to strip out the EHR certification and meaningful use requirements as much as possible so that the doctor doesn’t even know she’s doing it. It just happens in the natural flow of her work. [Obviously not an exact quote since it was a couple years ago, but you get the gist.]

Compare that approach to an EHR vendor that just slapped in some features to meet the requirements without much thought of how that will actually impact a doctor. Indeed, not all meaningful use EHR implementations are created equal.

It still gets under my skin a little bit to think that how well an EHR implemented meaningful use becomes part of a physician’s EHR selection criteria. Something doesn’t feel right about that to me. However, I expect that those EHR who thoughtfully approached meaningful use and EHR certification also did the same with everything else in their EHR and so maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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’d even take it a step further and say that meaningful use and its sister EHR certification have done much to level the playing field of EHR software.”

    … and on top of that they have created what basically amounts to 300 versions of vanilla when it is chocolate that the client needs.

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