No, I am not talking about actual numbers in dollars and cents, I am referring to the opportunity cost EHR vendors are being forced to pay. These federal regulations may be costing the healthcare industry EHR innovation.
Innovation can be defined as the application of better solutions through a new, more effective device or process. Nowhere in that definition does it mention creating something new for the purpose of meeting required standards. EHR innovation happens when there are system improvements that were guided by the end-user experience. These improvements occurred to better the consumer interaction with the product not to fulfill mandatory regulatory requirements.
This need to meet federal mandates often takes priority over everything else. Developers don’t have time to work with end users to make systems more efficient and usable instead they are busy trying to dot their I’s and cross their T’s, so to speak, so their products are MU compliant. Truly, there’s no way out of developing to the standard, vendors are backed into a corner because clients need their products to be certified so they are not penalized.
Don’t get me wrong, I agree we need a set of basic standards for EHR products, but is the release of the finalized stage 2 and 3 rules taking this too far? On October 6, 2015 CMS released the final MU rules claiming they were “trying to make the technology work better for the provider”, and “were giving developers more time to create the next advancements required and prepare for the next set of system improvements”, but how can technology work better for every single provider in the same exact way? Even CMS’ own dictation gives the impression that there will always be a stringent deadline to meet, and that there will never truly be an end to the requirements.
So, does being compliant mean you have to stop improving and innovating? Not all the time. EHR vendors are still trying to cultivate innovation and find ways to satisfy their client’s needs. For instance, the NextGen Dashboard was recently released and provides valuable information to the user at a quick glance. This is a useful tool that adds to the client experience and was not driven by a meaningful use requirement, it is genuine EHR innovation.
We, at Itentive, are optimistic about the future of EHR innovation and hope the newly released Meaningful Use final rules will allow EHR vendors the time that is needed to meet standards and foster new ways to advance the end-user experience.
- Lindsey Lanning, Healthcare Infomatics Coordinator at Itentive