Meaningful Use Changes Focus to a To-Do List and Away from Patient Care

Posted on March 4, 2014 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.

I was reading a message from a doctor recently that really struck me. He commented about the impact of meaningful use on his EHR use and said that he’s now “trying to figure out what to do next instead of trying to figure out what is wrong with a patient.”

I’m sure some doctors will come on here and argue why the person experiencing this is a bad doctor and why they should always be focused on patient care and not checking the next box. While there’s always a balance in everything we do, the comment from this doctor really struck me because it describes really well the way so many doctors are being trained to use their EHR. They literally have people auditing and tracking them to make sure that they’re checking the right check boxes so they can meet meaningful use. This type of hyper focus on checking the right boxes and punishment when you don’t changes the way someone practices medicine.

I always love when people comment that many doctors didn’t like the stethoscope when it came out. They use that story to explain that many doctors don’t like EHR software, but that they’ll come around the way they did with the stethoscope.

While there’s some merit in this analogy, I can’t imagine there was anyone watching how a doctor used the stethoscope to ensure that it was used in a specific manner. That’s what we have going on in the EHR world today. Meaningful use is so prescriptive in its requirements that it overwhelms a doctor to the point of affecting the quality of care they provide.

Think about the efforts that are being made by EHR vendors and EHR consultants to take the meaningful use load off of a doctor’s back. Everything from changing the design to meet the MU requirements without a major change to workflow to offloading as much of the meaningful use requirements to someone other than the doctor. If meaningful use really was of value for doctors, why would they have to go to all this effort to avoid doing it?