Friday, May 01, 2009

How should we use $36 billion to promote EMRs?

Journalist Joe Conn is one of my all time favorite HIT writers - especially because he has the talent to take my ramblings and put them into excellent articles, like this one he just published at the Modern Healthcare web site... or if that does not open, you can find it on my DrLyle website.

I was talking about the government plan to reward doctors with $36 billion in incentive bonuses for using EMRs in a "meaningful manner" - first, I'm all for using EMRs meaningfully, and second, I'm all for rewarding physicians! However, I was warning that our current crop of EMRs are far from perfect and was saying to make sure that we reward the right thing (quality and efficiency, not simply use of IT). I like how John Halamka, M.D. and CIO at CareGroup Health System in Boston defined "meaningful use" during the recent DC Hearings on this topic: “Processes and workflow that facilitate improved quality and increased efficiency.”
Additionally, I was questioning whether we could spend that $36 billion a better way- perhaps by creating a national EMR framework upon which vendors could build their applications (yeah- sort of like the iPhone). Hell- for $36 billion, the government could buy up the EMR divisions of Cerner, GE, Allscripts, and many others and then get everyone on one system!


  1. Anonymous5:45 AM

    I agree 100%. Just because the information is stored as electrons on silicon instead of graphite on paper doesn’t make it better. The paper system is broken and cannot be fixed. Likewise the EHR system is also broken but it can be fixed. It will just take good communication between the end-user s and the developers. Communication that seems to be lacking. 36 billion would buy a lot of communication I bet.


  2. Refreshing ideas.

    I fear that ARRA will push more software into healthcare, still not listening to the true needs of end users.

    I think that the litmus test of a good EHR is how well it handles workflow. If nurses still have to use pencil on paper to keep track of "who's on first", etc, meaningful usage will be defined differently by each of the emperor's tailors, like we have now.