Well, we messed up Plan A to get to EPR. What if there’s no Plan B, though…?

Last week, delegates at the HIMSS conference in New Orleans heard how Obama’s incentive plan to get American hospitals using ICT better is starting to really strike gold.

That plan, Meaningful Use, basically grants hospitals that get properly up and running with what our Transatlantic cousins call ‘EHRs’ (electronic health records) but we call ‘EPRs’ (electronic patient records) actually get more dollars from their government.

According to a poll of the members of this global health IT group, which is also called the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, nearly two-thirds say they have already qualified for Meaningful Use Stage One and three-quarters indicated they expect to qualify for Stage Two in 2014.

That translates, really rather astonishingly, to 30% of respondents expect to get cash back from the US government of up to $2m each for meeting their Meaningful Use stage One targets. Another 23% expected even bigger returns, of $2m-$3m – and 16% look to $4m-$5m.

Given the very public failure of our own country’s attempt to build a national EPR system via the National Programme for IT, it’s pretty humbling comparing the strategies.

America seems to have decided to make EPR delivery a route to extra funding to spend on patients.We seem to have decided to waste a huge, multi-biliion, once in a lifetime fund to properly computerise the NHS. And now Jeremy Hunt says we have to do EPR because it’s the best way to well, save all the money he wants to take off us.

Not for a second being party political here: our job in health IT is not to make policy but to implement it. But don’t you think there might be a better way to get to what the Health Secretary says he wants – a paperless NHS – than cry over spilled NPfIT milk or look enviously across at the US?

There just might be. And it lies in what the Health Secretary wants us to do about X-rays and something called VNA (Vendor Neutral Architecture)…

Of which, more shortly! 🙂

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