I had a really interested discussion today that had me asking the question of whether meaningful use was a commodity. The standards of meaningful use are the same and in the hospital environment we’re talking about a half dozen major EHR systems (only 2 in the top environment).
Per wikipedia, a commodity is “a class of goods for which their is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.”
There’s no doubt there’s now a demand for EHRs thanks to the EHR incentive money. The real question is whether there is a qualitative differentiation across a market. When it comes to meaningful use, there is very little differentiation. All of the top hospital EHR vendors meet meaningful use requirements.
I bet if we asked hospital CIOs what their goals were with their EHR implementation they’d almost unanimously say “meet meaningful use.” Sure, if we dug in some more we could probably find some bigger picture ideals, but the harsh operational reality is that hospital CIOs are implementing EHR to meet meaningful use.
Based on that concept, EHR certainly starts to feel like a commodity to me. We could dig into which EHR will get you to meaningful use quicker. The problem is that they are all hard and take work. I’m not seeing enough differentiation on that front and even if there is differentiation, I’m not sure how you’d measure it in any quantifiable manner.
What do you think? Is EHR now a commodity? What does it mean if it is a commodity?