A few months back, Anne Zieger did a post discussing AHA’s comments that the Meaningful Use schedule is too ambitious that started me thinking about what’s really happening with the EHR incentive money.
Think about the hospitals that were best positioned to get access to the EHR incentive money. In most cases, they were the hospitals that were rich enough to implement IT and EHR well before the EHR incentive money even existed. I’d love to see a survey of hospitals that started their EHR implementation after the announcement of the EHR incentive money. Yes, I’m being generous. I’m not even taking into account the arduous EHR selection process that can often go on for years. If you added in that time frame, I wouldn’t be surprised if no hospitals selected and implemented an EHR post EHR incentive money.
Remember that most enterprise software projects in a hospital take multiple years to accomplish. Most hospital EHR implementations are an enterprise software project on steroids. That means that those hospitals that were already well down the path of EHR adoption are those that got paid the EHR incentive money. Those hospitals that could really use the EHR incentive money are still sitting there trying to figure out how they’re going to implement an EHR.
I’m sure there are plenty of cases where the EHR incentive money hastened EHR implementations that would have taken much longer. I know a number of hospitals that had EHR somewhere on their list of IT projects. No doubt the EHR incentive money bumped up the priority of that project.
I can’t help but see the irony of Obama having an EHR incentive program that makes the rich hospitals richer.