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.
We tell our kids to own up to their missteps and correct them. But too many adults don't seem to follow the same advice, blaming others for their own errors and failing in some instances to even acknowledge their accountability, let alone step up to the plate and fix it. Unfortunately, the electronic health record industry is not immune from this problem. In recent weeks we've seen a rash of these instances.
With the NFL's championship game a little more than a week away, there is much speculation about the Denver/Seattle match up--and there will be the inevitable Monday morning quarterbacking long after the game ends. Many people disparage Monday morning quarterbacking. It's always easier to review a decision after it's been tested and played out.
But sometimes, Monday morning quarterbacking serves a useful purpose, because it causes people to reassess a decision or judgment call. Even if it's too late to save yesterday's game, it may help tomorrow's. That's what we're seeing with electronic health record interoperability.
I usually take electronic health record research at face value. These are generally scientific endeavors, often conducted by esteemed institutions or academicians who are testing the effectiveness of such tools, assessing their impact on satisfaction and productivity, or determining their role in research. So it's disconcerting to read not one, but two studies this week that question the quality of some of the EHR research being conducted.
I read with great interest this week's proposals to improve electronic health records in the new year. First we have Jacob Reider, Acting National Coordinator for Health IT, who published a blog post on Jan. 6 acknowledging that EHR usability continues to be an unresolved issue that remains a priority for ONC." Then we have the Institute of Medicine on the same day issuing a proposed standard model for hospitals and others to evaluate the financial benefits and costs of purchasing an EHR and its potential return on investment (ROI). While these both are welcome developments, I can't help but be a little bit cynical.
The electronic health record world covered a lot of ground in 2013, some of it positive, some of it not. Here's our annual look at the top stories that dominated the headlines in FierceEMR in 2013--and a few that we might expect to see in 2014.