David C. Kibbe and Brian Klepper
First posted 7/06/11 on Kaiser Health News
2011 will be a disappointing year for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator’s electronic health record incentive programs. We predict that few doctors and hospitals will meet the objectives set for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology. Meaningful use is, of course, the term that describes the objectives and measures providers and hospitals must meet in order to receive financial bonuses authorized by Congress in the HITECH portions of the economic stimulus bill of 2009. David Blumenthal, the former national coordinator, had hoped large numbers of doctors and hospitals would adopt EHRs starting in 2011, the first year bonuses are available. But, in reality, by the end of the year the percentage of physicians using EHRs won’t likely rise much above the current 20 to 25 percent rate.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This year and, to a lesser extent, 2012, could be for “cleaning house.” Many older, costly and difficult-to-implement legacy EHRs will be replaced by less expensive, more agile systems that have been developed specifically for meaningful use and are deliverable in the cloud as Software-as-a-Service. Transitions like these take time, but the dynamics are foreseeable.