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E-Health Systems: For Love or Money?

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, January 18, 2011

In the HealthLeaders report, hospital and health system leaders rate their satisfaction with the cost, value, interoperability, ease of use, speed, responsiveness, and downtime of their systems. They also rated their satisfaction with functions such as chart review, patient portals, physician portals, decision support, and the ability to conduct data-driven research. In every category fewer than 57% of respondents were either strongly or somewhat satisfied.

The satisfaction rates were a little better at physician practices and clinics—but not by a whole lot.

(Check out page 14 and 16 of the report for all of the data on leaders' satisfaction with a variety of EHS components, broken down by setting.)

And that begs the question—are providers pushing forward with electronic health systems just to get the money and to avoid penalties for failing to meet meaningful use? Or do they believe that the technology will ultimately get better and have a positive impact on outcomes? A sampling of provider responses shows that some are motivated by the financial carrots and sticks, but others believe it is the right thing to do.

"The penalties [for failing to achieve meaningful use] would close our practice," wrote one respondent, the administrator of a physician organization.

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1 comments on "E-Health Systems: For Love or Money?"


Paul Roemer (1/18/2011 at 1:33 PM)
Nicely written Gienna. My concerns from the get go regarding Meaningful Use (MU) and Certification are: ? Is Meaningful Use meaningful ? If so, to whom My answer to both questions is it is meaningful, on paper, to the ONC and CMS. It is meaningful with the respect that it does one thing. ? Meaningful Use changes the course of a healthcare provider's business strategy from whatever internal course it was pursuing to one having a national focus. If you do not believe me, look at your resource plan for meeting MU. Some hospitals are having to redirect more than fifty percent of their IT resources away from whatever they were doing for the hospital to meet the MU requirements. The article reports several sets of numbers which I think are at best misleading. I think those hospitals who meet MU will do so much later than are being reported. Few will make it in time to capture the full EHR "rebate". As such, the pool of available money to go back to hospitals is overstated, as are the number of hospitals who will receive it. There is a broad chasm between those who expect to receive money and the amount they expect to receive, and how much will paid be paid to how many. Now, with respect to whether any of this is meaningful; how many hospitals would have been willing to sacrifice their business strategy and spend millions of dollars to try to meet such a gossamer directive if this was tied to any other directive originating out of Washington? Let us take something so outlandish as to be silly just to try to illustrate the point; paining your hospital pink. If Washington offered similar sums of money and if one had to spend similar resources to earn it, would a hospital's executive team approve the expenditure? What is the business reason that makes MU so different? The other issue I have with their optimistic MU adoption forecasts is the following. Meeting MU is binary. That is, there are no points for getting close. A hospital which meets ninety-five percent of the criteria receives the same rebate as a hospital which meets none of the criteria. Zero. Using their own figures, if hospitals meet it by 2016, all they will have done is spent millions to receive zero payout. As you calculate the ROI for EHR/MU be sure to include the following: ? Will your EHR implementation be successful? The latest figures I have seen suggest that your odds of having a successful implementation of EHR are less than one in two. ? If you are "successful" will you meet it in time to potentially qualify for the full amount[INVALID]if not, decrease what you expect to receive. ? Will you complete the requirements to your satisfaction[INVALID]if not, multiply your expected payout by a number less than one? ? Will you pass the MU audit? Some will not. That is why there is an audit. If you do not pass, you can reapply at a later date, but you will no longer be entitled to the full amount. Again, multiply your expected payout by a number less than one. And, here's the kicker. Here is the calculation most hospitals have overlooked. How much has your productivity dropped since you implemented EHR? A heads up for hospitals who have not completed their implementation[INVALID]a large number of hospitals have spent in excess of a hundred million dollars only to see their productivity still twenty percent below what it was without EHR. What does such a productivity loss do to your ROI calculation? There is no language from ONC and CMS stating that such a productivity loss is meaningful.