Who would have thought for the CMS meaningful use incentive program to become one of the most polarizing topics in healthcare industry? Today, physicians stand divided. While some seek to benefit from the direction of use it provides, others blame meaningful use for stifling innovation in EMRs and health IT. Many medical professionals argue that use of medical technology should not be capped by regulations, “It is like a limiter. I should be able to decide how an EHR benefits my patient. Care should not be standardized. We deal with individuals as individuals. Not machines.”, says an annoyed physician.
However, the issue with meaningful use is not limited to standardization. Physicians attesting have to deal with several unique issues while reporting for meaningful use. The most significant concern has been the loss of productivity and the increase in overtime. When shifting from a paper based system, physicians want more control over documentation procedures and while few electronic medical records fulfill that need through customization, the meaningful use criteria still dictates clinical documentation for most physicians.
Some providers feel that restriction and control over their work causes an unnecessary delay that leads to loss of business and frustration among staff members. “The meaningful use incentive program is strategically designed to push physicians into adoption. Nobody incorporates overtime fees that one has to pay or the visitation slots that get freed up for meaningful documentation to be complete, particularly during the implementation and early adoption phase.”, says one provider.
On the other hand, there are a number of physicians that advocate for the CMS program. Some medical professionals believe that the meaningful use program is actually transforming healthcare, using a step by step approach. “We know that EMRs have been around for a while and some hospitals have been using these systems for nearly a decade. However, when you talk about solo practitioners without IT personnel, you can’t just expect them to start utilizing these systems in an efficient way. They would need a plan or a beginner’s guide to introduce them to the potential benefits of their EMRs.”, says Keith Smith, a health IT consultant.
Apart from the incentives, the improvement in care quality is what should ideally be the strongest proponent of Meaningful Use. It may add to the responsibility of providers to collect, analyze and share medical information, but it is through these changes that the healthcare system can truly transform. Farzad Mostashari the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology explains, “MU is a step by step road map of how our healthcare system can transform itself to provide higher quality of care, safer patients and patient coordinated care,” adding, “That means not only MU is the blue print of how to deliver better care, it is also the blue print of how healthcare providers can thrive in the healthcare markets.”