The impact of the budget sequester is now being felt by physicians expecting meaningful use payments. During a HIMSS town hall meeting Elizabeth Holland, director of HIT Initiatives in CMS Office of E-Health Standards and Services, stated that Medicare meaningful use payments will be affected by the sequestration. Which means that a 2% reduction to Medicare payments will affect Meaningful use payments. Now that the word is getting out, you can hear half the industry gasp and the other half saying, “I told you so.”
There have been two schools of thought when it comes to meaningful use. The first group are those early adopters which felt that if you don’t get your money in the early phases, chances are that the government will either run out of money or change their mind (move with the political winds). The second group includes those that could not quickly adopt the requirements and those that wanted to “wait and see” how others were going to do it.
Politics aside, what meaningful use did was raise the bar in terms of clinical analytics. It really forced the data quality issue in our industry. EHR’s could no longer be used as repositories for scanned documents. You have to actually park data in a way that allows you to mine and report patient clinical data. For many organizations this was a culture shift decades in the making.
So will the sequester cuts really affect the effort behind the Meaningful use incentive payments? I believe that enough information has been provided to clinicians for them to realize the value of clinical data metrics, outside of monetary reimbursement. The smart ones looked at Meaningful use as icing on the cake, and the real value residing in an additional tool for improving outcomes through the use of sound data analysis. How about the rest of them you ask? Boca has some really good retirement home deals these days.