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Meaningful Use or Useful Life? Can Both Exist?

Jim Molpus, for HealthLeaders Media, January 10, 2012

What is less clear is whether meaningful use will form the foundation of a sustainable, "useful" investment in a baseline IT foundation that can pay dividends much past the 2015 end of the program.

Sasha Kramer, MD, a dermatologist and sole practitioner from Olympia, WA, testified last summer before the House Health and Technology Subcommittee that she spent $41,349 on an EHR system in 2009, including a one-time grant of $19,964 from the Washington Health Information Collaborative for Health Information Technology. The cash investment was on top of the estimated 160 hours she says she spent on selection and implementation, and a month where her patient volume dipped as she went through integration. Less than two years later she got a call from the vendor.

"I was notified by my software vendor that it had been acquired by another company and that the new vendor's products would not support my current network platform," she testified. "The new vendor offered a different product, but because of the significant cost and concerns about the company's stability, I am looking at alternative vendors. Currently, I am looking at a new system that will cost in excess of $27,000 with $6,000 in annual charges; all of which must come out of my business cash reserves. It's not just the financial investment; I will again have to take time away from my patients to implement and train my entire practice on this new system."

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