Blumenthal calls meaningful use a 'one-time offer'

If you aren't going to achieve meaningful use this time around, don't expect the federal government to give you another shot at Medicare and Medicaid subsidies for EHRs.

"[The] federal government is making a one-time offer. We'll put money on the table to help you now but we're not going to put money on the table later," national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal says in an interview with CMIO, shortly after last week's release of the final rules for Stage 1 of the bonus program.

While HHS only specified the requirements for Stage 1, Blumenthal offers some hints about what to expect in Stage 2, which begins in 2013. For example, some of the measures that are optional in 2011 and 2012 will become "core objectives" later. "We also, I suspect, will be looking at more demanding forms of health information exchange and probably more decision support, more robust use of physician order entry and also administrative simplification," Blumenthal says. "All those things are possible targets for 2013 and beyond."

He believes the federal incentive program will drive improvement in EHRs themselves, thanks to increased demand for better systems. "As physicians and other health professionals adopt EHRs, they are going to become increasingly demanding of vendors for better functionality, better usability and more comprehensive capabilities, and I think they will move the market using their professional understanding of what their patients need," Blumenthal explains. "I also think they will demand of the hospitals that the systems they use work for them and work for their patients."

For more:
- read this CMIO interview with Blumenthal