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All Things HIT

Dec 2 2011   12:42PM GMT

December, already a month to remember in health IT

Posted by: AllinHIT
CMS, EHR, EHR adoption, Electronic health records, Meaningful use, MU stage 2

December can already be marked as a month to remember for those of us in health IT.   HHS leader Sec. Kathleen Sebelius’ announcement that MU qualification is being extended until 2014 is sweet music to the ears of those in the industry still struggling with adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).

Once again, I have to give it to the ONC for their flexibility in chartering the course to adoption.  Can you imagine if the HITECH incentives were initially based on adoption with a certified solution and no MU criteria? As HHS reported this week, adoption has doubled in the last two years, and by delaying MU qualification, they believe it will increase adoption even more.

This ends the year with a huge upside for those preparing to implement EHRs in 2012! Depending on where one is in the process (selection, implementation/go live, or post launch), more time can be spent on refining workflows and processes, training staff, and aligning efforts cohesively with other health IT projects, such as ICD-10 migration. And let me caution those of you who are at the beginning of this implementation and adoption journey and think you can delay the selection process — you can’t! You will need this extra time.

This announcement also aligns EHR adoption and MU with infrastructure building, needed for such things as the NwHIN and the esMD networks.  Vendors like my friends at EHRDOCTORS and MRO Corp can spend more time testing their communication products, and CMS can spend more time testing the network. NwHIN for transporting PHI and the esMD for transporting required auditing documents will have to be very reliable and secure. These vendors and CMS can now adopt a more “gradual loading” of the network, since adoption will be more gradually staged in the marketplace, without these time-constrained, MU qualifications!  In data center speak, it is a natural “load balancing”!

Most important, this announcement affects every one of us as patients, and is really a mixed bag.  I believe adoption is better for patients, so “the sooner, the better”.  However, it is important to patient care that the systems are reliable, secure, increasing efficiency, and that all those ROI variables are there. For example, more time left for providers to implement CDS/clinical informatics can lead to more define order sets, leading to better care for chronic diseases.

So, thanks to HHS, you have us a gift during this time of year!  Now, can you really make it a December to remember and delay ICD-10?

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