Meaningful Use Attestation: GE Admits Problems with Two Centricity Products

Posted on October 24, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

If you have been using GE Healthcare’s Centricity Practice Solution or Centricity Electronic Medical Record solution to demonstrate Meaningful Use, you might be in for something of a rude shock. According to an InformationWeek Healthcare story by Neil Versel,

“Some customers of GE Healthcare may not be able to achieve Meaningful Use with their current electronic health records (EMR) systems, as the vendor has discovered “inaccuracies” in its software’s reporting functions.”

According to Versel, GE admitted the problem in a letter that went out to users of the two Centricity products on Thursday and promised a solution by end-November. At the time the InformationWeek story was written, this GE link was not working, but is now. In the document, GE details exactly where its reporting was going wrong. It appears as if the problems lay in the following areas:
– the default race and ethnicity provided by GE’s Centricity products didn’t always map exactly to OMB’s race and ethnicity categories (as an example, GE’s Centricity provided for a single Multi-Racial category, whereas OMB requires that a multiracial person be allowed to select as many races as s/he wants)
– inaccurate recording of smoking status
– inadequate training of doctors on educating their patients about medications

Among the recommendations put forward by GE:

– If you’ve already attested for 2011, run reports again for attestation period once GE issues its software update. If the results don’t match up,
a) check if you clear all applicable Meaningful Use thresholds for the original period
b) check if you meet thresholds for all applicable measures

– If you haven’t attested for 2011, hold off on attesting till GE issues its updates.

– Prospectively follow GE’s recommendations for the rest of the year

While the GE letter points out there is still time till Feb 29, 2012 for 2011 attestations, these were my first reactions to reading this piece of news:
– Even a Stage 1 Meaningful Use certified software from a well-known company is not immune to inaccuracies in reporting

– It might seem like a trivial change to move from “Multi-racial” to allowing multiple check-boxes for races, but it could mean the difference between demonstrating MU and not being able to. From GE’s perspective, I would want to know why these small-seeming errors were not caught at the time these Centricity products were Stage 1 MU certified

– How many/what percentage of Centricity EMR and Practice Solution users were affected? It’s not very clear/GE doesn’t say.

– The letter and recommendations don’t show up on GE Healthcare website, and to me it’s also quite interesting that a story like this doesn’t have any hits beyond the InformationWeek article.

– Are there any recourses apart from following GE directives? Maybe if you have softwares other than GE’s Centricity, maybe you can cross-check your results. But I don’t know how many practices actually can afford two or more EMRs. So this really might be a worthless suggestion, unless you can press one of those free EMRs into service!

Full Disclosure: GE is an advertiser on this site, but I’m not sure Priya Ramachandran knew that when she wrote this article.