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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Dec 12 2010   10:41PM GMT

How much do physicians care about the “meaningful use” requirements?



Posted by: DrJosephKim
arra, EHR, electronic health record, HITECH, Meaningful use, onc

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. ARRA will fund more than $19 billion for healthcare information technology under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.  How much do physicians care about the “meaningful use” requirements outlined in the HITECH Act?

I’ve been having a number of discussions with physicians about these “meaningful use” requirements and many of them don’t seem to care about the financial incentives and penalties that outlined in the HITECH Act. Those who don’t care about the incentives don’t really believe that they’ll ever see these types of financial incentives from the government. Some of them have pursued other types of financial incentives tied to Medicare e-Prescribing or to PQRI. They haven’t seen a nickel for their hard work. Perhaps they’re not filing the documents correctly. Maybe their paperwork got lost. Physicians who have had negative experiences with these types of things are not overly optimistic about receiving any of the financial incentives of up to $44,000 (Medicare) or $63,750 (Medicaid).

Others simply don’t think it’s worth making the switch from paper to electronic health records. Why should they go out and purchase an ONC-ATCB-certified EHR if they’re going to retire in 5 or 10 years? Will they actually see a significant return on their investment? Will the financial penalties make a significant impact?

Then, there are those who are currently using an EHR that is not certified by any of the ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies. What should they do? Wait to see if their EHR ends up getting certified? Wait and hope that will happen, or make the investment to switch to a different EHR?

At the end of the day, let’s hope that more physicians will demonstrate their enthusiasm about achieving “meaningful use” of EHRs and perhaps this will start when we hear stories of physicians actually receiving financial incentives based on their utilization of EHRs. I think it’s going to be a while before we see any of the ARRA money, but perhaps those true success stories will motivate others to catch up with the 21st century.

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