DrFirst Healthcare Technology Blog

The Super Bowl or Meaningful Use Money – Which Is The Better Bet?

February 4, 2011

Doctors shouldn’t wager on an Act of Congress before acting on Meaningful Use

If you’re playing in a Fantasy League you know it’s going to be a close game on Sunday. The Steelers have made the most Super Bowl appearances and Roethlisberger has something to prove. But then again the Packers are the favored team and Aaron Rodgers is on fire… If you’ve got money riding on the game, it’s an agonizing decision.

We hear from doctors on a daily basis that they too are struggling with a decision that involves a lot of back and forth: whether to invest in a Meaningful Use solution this year, or wait.  The concern is that the new Congress is making threats about defunding the HITECH Act. What if doctors invest in meeting Meaningful Use requirements, only to get shorted out of promised incentive funds because Congress pulls the plug?

A hard-hitting InformationWeek article makes a great case for why doctors shouldn’t worry. The article’s top reasons:

  • Even if House Republicans pass a law to cut funding from the HITECH Act, the umbrella legislation that covers Meaningful Use incentives, the Senate probably won’t pass it – and President Obama would just veto it, anyway.
  • Incentives are paid out yearly until 2014; after which, payment reductions kick in. If funding is cut, it will likely be for those who adopt meaningful use later during the incentive period. 2011 is the year to reap the most incentives – up to $21K this year alone.
  • It’s the twenty-first century, folks. We now know that IT Health technology cuts costs and improves care, incentive programs or not.

On this last point, Chuck Christian, CIO at Good Samaritan Hospital, especially agrees. He stated to InformationWeek: “We’re not doing this because we think we’ll get a windfall, we’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”

But he’s aware the program’s funds have an expiration date. “If you’re late to the game, you’ll get a reduced amount. There’s a finite bucket of money, when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Christian said to Information Week.

The article also points out that transitioning to electronic health records – the core of Meaningful Use – has typically been a bipartisan goal. We expect it will be again, once the current political posturing runs its course.

Our conclusion: we believe securing Meaningful Use funds is by far a sure thing- check are already in the mail for early adopters- and an even better bet for providers that invest in a low-cost solution like Rcopia-MU!

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About the Author

Peter Kaufman CMO

Schooled at MIT, Dr. Kaufman nurtured a strong interest in medical informatics while a Bowman Gray School of Medicine faculty member. After entering private practice he founded PiNK software in 1996 to produce EMR software, later becoming DrFirst’s chief medical officer upon its founding. He lectures nationally on various healthcare IT topics, and as a board certified gastroenterologist, he continues a limited clinical practice. Dr. Kaufman is a member of the Health IT Standards Committee, Privacy and Security Workgroup for ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology). Representing the American Gastroenterology Association’s (AGA), Dr. Kaufman is a delegate to the AMA and was the co-chair of the Physicians Electronic Health Record Consortium (PEHRC). He has participated on workgroups at CCHIT (stand-alone e-prescribing), HIMSS (e-prescribing), and NCPDP (e-prescribing).

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