Allscripts' CEO pushed for meaningful use

It's well known in health IT circles that Allscripts Healthcare Solutions CEO Glen Tullman was an early supporter of the campaign of President Barack Obama. He had fellow Chicagoan Obama's ear during the pre-inauguration transition period, and, of course, lobbied hard for inclusion of EMR incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in early 2009.

But Tullman did not want the federal government merely to subsidize new EMR purchases. In an interview with Forbes reporter Alexandra Zendrian the day Allscripts completed its merger with Eclipsys last week, Tullman revealed that he also pushed for EMR usage requirements that would come to be known as "meaningful use."

"There was some initial legislation that said, 'We'll give every physician who doesn't have an electronic health record $15,000,'" Zendrian quotes Tullman as saying. "And we actually were against that. People said, 'Well, how can you be against that? You would benefit.' I said, 'Just telling them to buy a system doesn't mean they'll use it.' So taxpayers may not get a good return."

Plus, Tullman didn't want existing customers to be shut out. "Second, [the early proposal] rewarded only those physicians who didn't buy an electronic health record already," Tullman says. "So all the innovators would get punished for being innovative and all the people who wait, they would be the people who got the money. And so we opposed that and ultimately came up with meaningful use, which rewarded people not for what they said they were going to do, not for buying it, but for actually delivering better care."

For more information, including why Tullman supported the health insurance reform approved this year:
- take a look at this Forbes blog item