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CIO Unplugged – 2/15/10

February 15, 2010 Ed Marx No Comments

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine personally, and are not necessarily representative of Texas Health Resources or its subsidiaries.

Meaningful Use Requires Meaningful Leadership
By Ed Marx

A few weeks ago, under authority of the Health and Human Services Secretary, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator of Healthcare Information Technology (ONC) issued proposed regulations on the definition of meaningful use and the initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHR technology. Certification criteria specify the capabilities and related standards that EHR’s must include to support the proposed meaningful use Stage 1 requirements for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals. The comment period will end shortly with the final rules released this year. The industry’s wailing and gnashing of teeth is in full force.

As a taxpayer, I’m pleased with the IFR. My concerns that the industry would water down Stage 1 requirements have been largely dispelled. Meaningful use was designed as an incentive-based initiative. As such, it strikes a healthy balance between attainment and stretch. It’s not a welfare program, and not everyone reaches Stage 1 in year one. If that were the case, IFR would not be an incentive program. I praise the government for raising the bar high, and I urge them to stand their ground.

When does tolerance of low standards begin destroying value? Is not an underlying lack of fortitude detrimental to the overall fitness of our nation’s healthcare? I get invited to dozens of meetings and surveys all aimed at lowering the bar. Well-intentioned organizations exercise political freedom and amass collective resources (including financial and personnel). Online and traditional healthcare media are whipping activity into a frenzy. We’re inundated with position papers, press releases, mobilized lobbyists, and pundit opinions.

But I’m convinced that if we channeled the above energy and focus into meaningful use, more organizations would lift themselves over the bar.

Leaders. Avoid the temptation to jump on bandwagons that lower the bar. Make your opinion known and then get about the business of attaining meaningful use. While the lazy lament the IFR, you be the catalyst that makes meaningful use a reality for your hospital and physicians. Demonstrate meaningful leadership.


Ed Marx is senior vice president and CIO at Texas Health Resources in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX. Ed encourages your interaction through this blog. (Use the “add a comment” function at the bottom of each post.) You can also connect with him directly through his profile pages on social networking sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and you can follow him via Twitter – User Name “marxists.”

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