Online medical records boondoggle: How to qualify for the "meaningful use" simulus funds

The Department of Health and Human Services has released an 864 page document which explains how health care companies can qualify for stimulus funds for implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR). In order for these companies to qualify for the stimulus funds, they first must comply with the gov't s definition of "meaningful use".  The definition of meaningful use is listed below and it is quite humurous, via Office of Federal Registry
(1) Use of certified EHR technology in a meaningful manner (for example, electronic prescribing); (2) that the certified EHR technology is connected in a manner that provides for the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of care; and (3) that, in using certified EHR technology, the provider submits to the Secretary information on clinical quality measures and such other measures selected by the Secretary.
Part 1 says that in order to demonstrate meaningful use of medical records, they must use them in a meaningful manner.  Forget the hoops, that reasoning is downright circular. 

Part 2 says that in order to demonstrate meaningful use, they have to share the information.  That raises all kinds of privacy issues.  It also has a big potential for errors.  Patients who are mislabeled at some time may have difficulty getting an honest second opinion.  The UK estimates that one in ten online medical records contain errors, via Telegraph:  "The system must be halted as it is not safe, doctors said."  That means that people could be perpetuating errors.  Imagine going into the emergency room and the doctor pulls up a file that fails to mention an allergy.  Already "around 200,000 people could be at risk from inaccurate information stored about them."

Part 3 says that the practice must submit information selected by the Secretary.  That means that the information selected may be completely arbitrary. 

The process could become very politicized.  There is no real definition of meaningful use and the information demanded for payment could be completely arbitrary.  This process is ripe for corruption, abuse and fraud.


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