Meaningful Use As a Requirement for Medical Licensure

About a year ago, you might remember the article I wrote about the Massachusetts law that would require doctors to be meaningful EHR users to have a medical license. The law was shocking then and the idea is shocking to consider even now.

The good news is that it looks like the law is going to be modified so that physicians don’t have to demonstrated EHR proficiency as part of their medical license. As you can imagine the Massachusetts Medical Society has been working hard to advocate for this change. They say that the modification was “designed to prevent disenfranchising more than 10,000 physicians who, by law or other circumstance, cannot achieve meaningful use certification.” Probably took a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

I think it’s more than heavy handed to tie EHR proficiency to a medical license. The reality is that EHR’s will become mandated thanks to things like reimbursement and medical malpractice insurance. There’s not going to need to be a law that says you have to be proficient in an EHR to hold a license.

Is it any wonder why many doctors are revolting against EHR?

One of the worst thing you can do to get someone to do something is to force them to do it. Instead of these heavy handed approaches, there should be a focus on the value an EHR provides. I don’t know any provider that doesn’t want to do something that provides value to their clinic and their patients. Forcing someone to do something is the lazy approach.

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.


  • When will it end ?

    First, you have the government controlling how doctors treat patients.

    The proposal of MU as a requirement for medical licensure, extends oversight to licensing boards and universities.

    You don’t see such fine control in manufacturing.

    There are standards that impact the output of manufacturing but not who manufacturing companies hire nor how they run their operations.

  • What about for new licenses? With hardship provisions? Having viable medical records that can readily be transmitted to other providers can be critical, and should eventually be mandated regardless of payments.

  • Interoperability was achieved in the early 1960s in the area of international shipping.

    Why is the healthcare industry figuring, in 2014, that this is a great ‘idea’.

    Interoperability in MU is one of many criteria in the “package”.

    Insisting on MU so you can achieve interoperability is like a car manufacturer selling you a car and insisting you sign up as a dealer at the same time.

    Maybe give the number of recalls we have been seeing, it might make a lot of sense for a car buyer to be a dealer at the same time. The dealer discount on parts could save the car owner a lot of money.

  • While I know healthcare is complex, we’ve had EMR for 40 years plus, and financial services have had interoperability to some degree for a fair number of years. Money transfer, trades (which can be quite complex) and other messaging are hardly new. ATM networks as well. Some are simple, some not, but no one is spending years just talking about whether it would be a good idea.

  • @ R Troy… When the talking ends at some future date, I guess we will have to wait until a generic data exchanger (widely available across most industries) get “invented” within healthcare.

    Exports/imports of “anything” is routine in my business. It works if a participating system is able to export its data and import data from other systems. One of the problems in healthcare is that some vendors make it “difficult” to export/import data.

    Imagine how that would work in banking (i.e. you could only transfer money from one bank to the same bank at another physical location)

    The export/import format need not be “standard” except that each time a new participant indicates that none of the data transport files in the library work, someone has to write a parser/formater and add this to the library.

  • Vendors are a huge issue here, IMHO. Early generations of some EHRs were built with no intention of data interchange, not so easy to add later. Proprietary database systems don’t help, and lack of complete standards (not just a ‘language’) adds to the problem. It’s great to create a requirement, not so great without a mandated or agreed on protocol.

    If in banking I want to message someone via a very popular system – SWIFT, there are very specific protocols for a given type of message, and each type is identified in the headers of the message. That’s been going on for a long time; at least a quarter century ago as I recall I was feeding messages to Swift from a system I’d developed. The messages were sent via a modem, but the main issue was the protocol. SWIFT has come a long way, and is still a central player. Maybe HealthIT needs a like firm.

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