Are All Meaningful Use Implementations Created Equal?

Posted on April 4, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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.