A new perspective on meaningful use

The big EMR vendors have never been without their critics, but few drive their point home as well as SEEDIE, the Society for Exorbitantly Expensive and Difficult to Implement EHRs. It's got a professional-looking site with a picture of a happy child right at the top of the home page. ("What does this little girl have to do with selecting an EHR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! But it does register 10 on the warm and fuzzy meter!") Actually, it's a dig at the Epic Systems home page, which pictures a little girl writing in the sand on a beach.

After being rather dormant for a couple of years, SEEDIE re-emerged this week with the announcement that it submitted unsolicited recommendations to HHS about meaningful use of EHRs. The group was quite philosophical. "'What is meaningful use?' asked executive director Sal Obfuscato at a recent SEEDIE executive retreat in Belize. 'We believe the question is the answer, as man has always struggled to find meaning in this world,'" the announcement says.

"This insight led SEEDIE to suggest that certified EHR vendors should embed quotes from well known philosophers in their applications. This approach will prompt physicians and other caregivers to actively seek meaning as they document patient encounters."

Meanwhile, SEEDIE's partner in crime, a fictional vendor called Extormity ("Expensive, Exasperating, Exhausting"), got in on the act as well by taking a shot at the eClinicalWorks strategy of selling its product through Sam's Club. "EMR vendor Extormity announced today that its electronic health record systems will soon be available for purchase in vending machines," the press release reads.

"Now, when you buy a soda and a bag of chips, you can also grab an Extormity EMR," CEO Brantley Whittington said in the statement. "Snack foods are no longer the sole domain of the vending machine channel, and with abundant stimulus incentives, obtaining an EMR for your practice will be as commonplace as picking up a package of gum or a roll of mints." (Hey, you can buy an iPod in the vending machines at the Las Vegas Hilton and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, as well as some Macy's stores, now. Why not an EMR?)

The new "light" version of the Extormity EMR will retail for $43,980, which just happens to come in $20 below the maximum Medicare bonus of $44,000 per physician. Use the change for snack cakes and energy drinks for practice staff, the company suggests.

In case you were wondering, the Extormity product is fully certified. In fact, it's the only vendor to earn SEEDIE certification."When customers see the SEEDIE seal, they can be confident that the EHR vendor displaying it will charge them a fortune for a convoluted implementation," SEEDIE explains.

It's unclear whether Extormity has earned platinum, gold or silver certification, though. "This sliding scale approach ensures that vendors with limited interoperability capabilities pay more for certification, enabling SEEDIE to continue operating profitably. These profits fund our annual executive forum and conference in Vail."

I knew there was something I forgot to ask Epic CEO Judy Faulkner last week. - Neil