There is a new blog post entering the hype circuit today, signaling yet another hand wringing phase in the manic depressive cycle of HITECH. First quoted at the MSDN blog and picked up by Healthcare IT News (Priming the Pump), it seems physicians are not buying EHRs fast enough. Ergo, ARRA is slowing down HIT adoption because docs want to wait until all the rules and regulations are finalized and the confusion is removed.
Here is the thing; this is exceedingly good news for ARRA and HITECH and EHR adoption. Why?
My biggest concern when the ARRA was enacted was that docs would rush headlong into buying software just to get the legendary $44,000 check. Considering that the EHR vendor community initiated aggressive and very shiny marketing campaigns around the stimulus, complete with guarantees and interest free loans, the EHR market looked eerily similar to the mortgage market from a few short years ago, and we all know what happened there.
If things proceeded according to the vendors’ expectations, we would end up with tens of thousands of physicians mired in lengthy implementations of software that is not a good fit for their practice and carrying a sizable debt to boot (interest free of course). When the dust cleared and the Meaningful Use regulations became final, and probably scaled back significantly, many purchasers would find out that the guarantees have small print attached requiring physicians to actually use the system in a certain way that may, or may not, be possible in their particular practice. The result of course would be an army of angry docs and a flurry of articles and blog posts bewailing the failed Government initiative and probably something about Obamacare thrown in there for good measure.
Instead, physicians proved that they are pretty savvy customers. Yes, incentives are nice and yes, they are interested in getting them, but not until they understand exactly what they need to do and what the cost will be to their practice. Fire sale tactics notwithstanding, there is a year and a half left until a doctor has to become a meaningful user and almost two years before Medicare will start shaving off pieces of the $44,000. There is ample time to shop around, take a good look at the final rules, see who certifies and who doesn’t, make sure practice revenue is adequate and then, and only then, make an informed decision.
I am so proud of every physician out there. What is worrisome to vendors of current products and services is actually a very good sign for ARRA and its ultimate success.