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Political Heat Scorches Meaningful Use Timetable

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 30, 2013

The HIMSS organization doesn't want to alienate its main vendors too badly, and yet, those vendors are dealing with enormous pressures. Software consultant Frank Poggio points out that ONC has continued to update some Stage 2 software compliance test suites as recently as this month, and those weren't just fixing typographical errors. Does such tinkering at this late date help vendors meet their deadlines, or just make the existing deadlines look more unrealistic? 

CHIME's visionaries are trying to integrate all this technology, and they speak with a clear voice for you, the customers.

If leadership does not appear, at the end of this $26 billion experiment, we won't be too much further down the line than we are now.

If the next administration is Republican, and manages to roll back part or all of Obamacare, and in the process can put its own stamp on Meaningful Use, rearranging or recasting the program, then that administration, which potentially has until 2024 to get the program right, could claim the political payoff and continue to heap scorn on predecessors in a time-honored political tradition.

I would like to think politics isn't behind some of the thinking going on behind delay, or behind rushing to implement prematurely. With the move toward accountable care—a move only made possible at scale through ubiquitous deployment of EHRs—it's clear we are on a journey, but nowhere near its end.

Last week, a doctor who should know told me it would take a decade from today to realize a true return on investment on the move to electronic health records. An insurer I spoke with last week assured me that its ACO partners have five years to prove their value, and only a handful are in year two.

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