“Meaningful Use” and the US EMR market

I would like to take a break from the Canadian market and take a look at an issue of great concern to US cousins. The US has announced a huge spending plan for US doctors to purchase EMR systems for their offices over the next few years. The issue getting the blogosphere excited is the term “Meaningful Use”.

I was reading a great post called “The Stimulus Bill and Meaningful Use of Qualified EHRs/EMRs” that describes the funding formula in the US as well as the “Meaningful Use” issue in great detail. The issue for those not interested in reading the whole post, is that in order to qualify for funding, “eligible providers must demonstrate use of a qualified EHR in a meaningful manner.”

What is of concern to me is that the secretary of Health and Human Services (HSS) has until January 2010 to define the criteria that makes up”Meaningful Manner/Use”. As Mike will attest I’m not a big fan of non-market solutions, but I cannot dispute the HSS right to put conditions on their funding…it is their money after all.

My big concern is the “market freeze” effect on the physicians and vendors in the US. I would find it hard to believe that the majority of US Physicians would run out and buy systems without knowing whether they will get some of it back from the government. As much as I feel for the vendors and the affect this will have one their short term sales, I worry that this delay will cause undue long-term confusion amongst the physicians and create new delays in getting this money out the door post January 2010.

What does everyone else think?

2 responses to ““Meaningful Use” and the US EMR market

  1. My question is this, say I implement a qualified EMR system into my practice through my billing company at a cheaper rate then most vendors. Is this incentive package designed solely to offset the cost of implementing the EMR system or is it designed to reward me for going digital? Simply put, is the government offering me a rebate or a true monetary incentive?

    • Chris,

      An excellent question. From my understanding of the US market the legislation I would think it is to offset the cost of implementing only “certified” EMR system.

      This money will be paid out in the form of Medicare and Medicaid premiums, and to quote directly from the link in my original post…”For the first year a physician is deemed to be a meaningful user, he or she will be eligible for payments of 75% of that year’s Medicare and Medicaid charges, up to a maximum of $15,000. The maximum payment is increased to $18,000 if the first year is 2011 or 2012. The incentive payments decline for each subsequent year within the five year period; $12,000 will be paid in year two, $8,000 in year three, $4,000 in year four, and $2,000 in year five.”

      As always with government incentive programs (whether in Canada or the US) the devil is in the details.

      Thanks for the question Chris.

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