Guerra On Healthcare: Is HITECH Worth It? - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Healthcare // Analytics
Commentary
12/27/2010
03:53 PM
Anthony Guerra
Anthony Guerra
Commentary
50%
50%

Guerra On Healthcare: Is HITECH Worth It?

Before you jump into the Meaningful Use qualification game, remember that it's voluntary and it means you now have a new boss: the federal government.

I like my independence, which is perhaps why I started my own company earlier this year. Sure, in a sense, I work for my customers, and they essentially take the role of my former bosses, but it really is quite different. When you have a boss, you don't get to say no (without usually suffering some serious consequences down the road), but when you have potential customers, you can say no to a proposal that does not square with your overall business plan and philosophy.

I have written before about this idea of "staying within your box" as an important factor in success, and it comes into play again here. Unfortunately, Meaningful Use (MU) has taken many healthcare organizations outside their box, in the sense that attempting to qualify for its incentive funds is forcing them beyond their capacity, much like an old train shaking as it reaches top speed. More disturbingly, the quest to qualify for its funds will require them to go ever faster.

When you go all-in on a government incentive program like Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH), you've just taken on a new boss, one who can call the tune to which you must dance, and change that tune as often as it likes. But let's remember two things about the program before we move forward. First off, it is voluntary, both in the sense that you don't have to do it and also in that you don't have to accept Medicare/Medicaid patients at all. The government is the payer, and that payer has been voluntarily accepted by your organization.

Second, remember that since the program is of such a voluntary nature, the government gets to determine exactly what you must do to receive the money if you should choose to participate. In a recent clarification which has produced some outcry, Blumenthal stated that yes, you must buy (but not install) all MU-related electronic health record (EHR) modules now, whether or not you plan to use them in qualifying for Stage 1 monies. Remember, he who offers the incentive gets to make the rules.

One of my healthsystemCIO.com bloggers, Paul Roemer, has consistently written about the dangers of outsourcing your strategic plans to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a return which amounts to pennies on the dollar, but just about every organization in the country has done it. Now, some are bristling at the twists and turns MU is taking, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so for two reasons. First off, those making MU policy will continue to want more for the money they're laying out. Secondly, healthcare providers far down the HITECH road will realize they have no choice but to continue stretching for the carrot which dangles on the ever just-out-of-reach string ahead.

What comes to mind here are expressions such as "there are no free rides." For those who thought qualifying for MU would be a jolly good time, I guarantee you this unpleasant clarification will be the first of many sobering moments. By jumping aboard the MU train, you've inadvertently taken on another boss, called the U.S. government. The government's representative, in this case, is David Blumenthal, whose recent holiday letter has left many in a less-than-festive mood.

SEE ALSO:

Guerra On Healthcare: Frustration With Meaningful Use Widespread

Guerra On Healthcare: Fixing Difficult Vendor Relationships

Guerra On Healthcare: Don't Underestimate CPOE Challenge

Guerra On Healthcare: Best Of Breed Vs. Enterprise Health IT

Guerra On Healthcare: Achieving Job Security

Guerra On Healthcare: Mentoring Key To IT Continuity

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at [email protected].

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Slideshows
Strategies You Need to Make Digital Transformation Work
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/25/2019
Commentary
Enterprise Guide to Data Privacy
Cathleen Gagne, Managing Editor, InformationWeek,  11/22/2019
News
Watch Out: 7 Digital Disruptions for IT Leaders
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/18/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
Getting Started With Emerging Technologies
Looking to help your enterprise IT team ease the stress of putting new/emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning and IoT to work for their organizations? There are a few ways to get off on the right foot. In this report we share some expert advice on how to approach some of these seemingly daunting tech challenges.
Slideshows
Flash Poll