Can You See Russia from the Front Porch of Meaningful Use?

There is little question in my mind that MU has been a catalyst pushing healthcare in the right direction, at least to this point. The question I have is, at what point will the meaningful use directives shift from being a push in the right direction to becoming a threat that stifles innovation and creates barriers to meaningful change? Sarah Palin’s comment on how close Russia is to Alaska was used in a really funny Saturday Night Live sketch as “I can see Russia from my house!” I think the point Ms. Palin was trying to make is that the threat is closer than most of us realize. With recent news events, that spoof doesn’t seem as funny anymore.

When I started at KLAS four years ago, CPOE had been around for several years and was widely considered the right thing to do. However, CPOE adoption was sporadic, and it was not uncommon to hear a provider tell me, “We want to implement CPOE, but the physicians refuse to do it.” I do not have that conversation anymore.

My conversations with providers now often go something like this: “I would like to do X [something innovative and meaningful], but we are so consumed by meaningful use that we just can’t spend the money or allocate the IT resources right now.”

This leaves me wondering if I am starting to see Russia from the front porch of MU. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not a conspiracy theorist who thinks MU is some kind of government plot. But I do think there is likely a point where the government should step back and let free market pressures and American ingenuity be the primary driving forces again. I’m just not sure exactly where that point is. 

KLAS is considering doing a report to understand how the healthcare community (providers and vendors) view this issue – what benefits they have seen from MU so far and how innovation has been impacted. We would love to hear from you. Let us know whether you can see Russia from the front porch of meaningful use and whether you feel a report on this topic would be helpful.

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