The jury may still be out on how the Meaningful Use program should operate and whether it really improves quality. There's no question, however, that the program was the catalyst for massive, high-speed adoption of electronic health records--and that the industry may have just turned a corner in its use and attitude regarding such systems.
We know that electronic health records can cost a lot of money, sometimes millions of dollars. So it would be pretty disconcerting for a provider to learn that it has to pay additional amounts on top of that initial layout. Yet evidently, this is not uncommon, and it's often because providers make mistakes when entering into a contract with an EHR vendor.
Now seems to be the time for physicians to evaluate their participation in the Meaningful Use program. After all, we're on the brink of leaving the carrot-only incentive phase and entering the penalty phase for those providers who don't meet federal requirements.
When I cook a recipe for the first time, I usually don't modify it. But the next time around, I tend to tinker with it so it's better, more to my liking. Add a little garlic, reduce the salt. It's a learning process. I must be in good company, since it seems that everyone these days wants to tinker with the Meaningful Use program.
It's not surprising that less than a month after the first indictment of a former hospital executive for false attestation to Meaningful Use that a House Committee has asked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servces and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General to justify how well they're policing the payments to providers.
What if someone built a better mouse trap and no one used it? What if people opted to continue using the existing available mouse traps because they were just as effective and cheaper than the upgraded mouse trap, and there was no obligation to use the newer one? That's my initial concern with the Office of the National Coordinator's newly proposed 2015 Edition of EHR certification criteria.
There's been a lot of hoopla about how a bipartisan group in Congress has finally reached a deal to repeal the much maligned sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, the method currently used to compensate physicians participating in Medicare. But a deep dive into the actual language of the bill raises a slew of questions regarding EHRs that need to be answered before this bill becomes law.
In many movies, you just know what's going to happen, at least in part. You predict it. You anticipate it. You know that in It's a Wonderful Life, for instance, Clarence the angel will help George Bailey realize that life is worth living. It's not clairvoyance on our part (who could predict the plot twist, in say The Crying Game or The Sixth Sense.) It's just that sometimes we've been given the clues. It's the same way with the Office of Inspector General's 2014 annual work plan. OIG is very transparent about its focus. There's no plot twist here.