Meaningful Use Begins with EHR Vendor Agreement

Providers looking to claim a piece of the incentive pie for “meaningful use” of an electronic health record (EHR) system face a difficult decision—choosing EHR system software. Early adopters of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provision stand to gain the most, but haste makes waste. Before your practice signs an agreement with a vendor, take time to read the fine print. There are certain things to watch out for.

In a Healthcare IT News article on EHR contract negotiations, Jeffery Daigrepont, senior vice president at Coker Group said that ensuring federal incentive funds begins during the vendor agreement stage.

“Many vendors offer a money back guarantee if their product does not comply with stimulus,” Daigrepont said. “Every contract should have a warranty that requires a vendor to correct defects at their expenses and under NO circumstances should you ever sign a contract without being entitled to future upgrades and new releases.”

The following is Daigrepont’s list of five health care IT decisions you’ll want to avoid (as seen in Healthcare IT News):

1. Buying defective software – It may not be your fault, but it’s your problem. Defects in software range from minor glitches to major liabilities. Most defects can be corrected, or workarounds developed. However, in cases where the defect creates a threat to security or patient safety, or a liability to the organization, the defect MUST be addressed immediately and/or use must be discontinued—just as Toyota has had to do with their cars’ sticking gas pedals.

2. Buying non-compliant software – Your entire organization is expecting the software to meet national standards or federal mandates, but the vendor fails to develop their product in accordance to these guidelines. In the case of stimulus incentives, being disqualified becomes a possibility. Moreover, penalties for not adopting could be enforced.

3. Not seeing the writing on the wall – Your system is installed, working and meeting the needs of the organization, but your vendor has commercially discontinued the product and is no longer creating enhancements. In short, you’re on a sinking ship. Not acting or refusing to accept the obvious is only delaying the unavoidable reality of having to rip out and replace your system.

4. One-offs – A “one-off” occurs when you cave to pressure from a department or individual who needs a specific IT solution to fill gaps around the existing program. In some cases, you have no other option, but there can be some trap doors when doing this. It’s always best to first see if there is a workflow workaround or if there can be a behavior change by those who feel they must have their own solution.

5. Going live with an incomplete system – The pressure to go live on a new system is often driven by a vendor who is trying to recognize revenue by burning through the hours in the budget so they can get to the next install. The system (in some cases) was not properly tested before going live. As a result, the users or physicians get first bitten by a bad experience or worse, backsliding starts to occur. This can be avoided by adopting a simple plan called “DBVT” (Design, Build, Validate, Test). For example, design your order form, build your order form, validate the build with end users, test the form with end users. This exercise will help you avoid proceeding with an incomplete system design.

For a sample contract language on how to protect your organization from some of these fatal IT decisions, contact Jeffery Daigrepont at: jdaigrepont@cokergroup.com or 770-597-0590.

Source: Healthcare IT News, Feb. 4

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13 Responses to “Meaningful Use Begins with EHR Vendor Agreement”

  1. Mark says:

    “Meaningful Use” Incentives are not discussed in this article. There is a question in the Test Yourself area for CEUs that asks…
    “To qualify for incentive payments, how long does EHR software need to be “meaningfully used” in the first year of adoption?”
    This article does not offer that information

  2. Sandy Glaspell says:

    I would like more answeres to the question “Meaningful Use” what does it mean?

  3. Kate says:

    Ditto to what Mark said.

  4. Olivia D says:

    In 2011 to meet the criteria for meaningful use-90 continuous days of EMR use in 2011.
    Federal Register Jan. 13th(?), 2010
    3 stages of meaningful use-stage one defined 12/31/2009 and comment period ends at end of Feb.
    25 criteria presented-to meet MU in stage one.

  5. Olivia D says:

    Below link for Federal Register-January 13th, 2010
    http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/E9-31216.htm

  6. Stacy F says:

    Thanks for addressing that, Mark. I thought I was losing it!

  7. Belva F says:

    I also thought I was losing my mind, i have read, re-read x 5 trying to find the answer.

  8. sandra e says:

    We have been using EMR since 2003. What about those of us who already have and use
    EMR? How can we be reimbursed?

  9. Terri Scrivener says:

    I thought I was sleeping at the wheel. I read and reread the article. The answer is just not there.

  10. Robin Wiswasser says:

    Ditto to what Mark states-

  11. Deb S says:

    Apparently the hyperlink “meaningful use” doesn’t work…this isn’t the first time a hyperlink hasn’t worked in an atricle and was crucial for the understanding of a segment of the article or necessary to be able to answer a question!

  12. bob c says:

    See Fed Reg, vol 75 #8, Jan 13,2010, page 1849

  13. Barbara P says:

    So bob c:
    we have to go to page 1849 to get the answer! Best take one dot at a time! Eventually you’ll get it right…..
    I used the hyperlink and it worked but “meaningful use” just went on and on….

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