Fixing Healthcare in 365 Days

Idea #67 For April 26th 2009: Not Shooting Ourselves in the Foot or The Meaning of Meaningful Use

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On April 28th and 29th, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) will be conducting hearings to collect information on the meaning of “Meaningful Use.” “Meaningful Use” is a 20 billion dollar buzzword these days because those facilities putting an EMR to “Meaningful Use” can get the incentives under ARRA/Hi-Tech, but without “Meaningful Use” you can’t. NCVHS is YAGAYNHO (Yet another government agency you never heard of) but is playing an absolutely crucial role in the practical aspects of final rule-making which will determine how the $20 billion in possible incentives gets doled out. I am quite heartened to see Fred Trotter scheduled to provide testimony and provide some general representation of Open Source systems, which now represent almost 10%-15% of the market (in patient terms), but have had little direct and public inclusion in the healthcare reform so far. Momentum is clearly building.

Historically in government policy making and in certifications like CCHIT, I think there are some significant problems that hopefully will be addressed more elegantly in this round:

The government has a phenomenal opportunity here to express clear, concise and common sense definitions and goals that apply to, and are attainable by, 75% of practices. But if they take a major wrong turn with standards too high or too low, three years from now we will be right back here with a $20 billion sense of deja vu.

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