While much of the response to the ARRA meaningful use rules has been optimistic, there is a growing list of individuals and organizations expressing concerns about the legislation including, it appears, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
I’ve personally written off the complaints that achieving these goals are going to be hard. If it were easy, we wouldn’t be making this much fuss about them. But there are some very valid concerns about the legislation, many of which are summarized in Anthony Guerra’s article this week in InformationWeek Healthcare. Guerra cites the exclusion of many hospital-based providers from the program as well as the long time taken in establishing the rules (during which time many providers have held off purchases) followed by the relatively short timeframe for implementing the required systems.
The critiques that concern me more, however, are those that question the value of electronic medical records technologies. When those concerns come from Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa), it makes me wonder if the healthcare IT stimulus dollars may face significant hurdles before finding their way to providers.
Grassley’s concerns took the form of a letter in January seeking information from 31 hospitals about their contracts with their IT vendors and asking questions about “gag orders,” vendor kickbacks and health IT-related errors. This effort follows a letter Sen. Grassley sent last fall to 10 health IT firms asking for them to provide copies of complaints they’ve received about their systems.
The timing of the letters comes amidst pushback close to home. Only two days prior to the Senator’s most recent letters, the Iowa City Press-Citizen highlighted the continuing issues with University of Iowa Healthcare’s Epic implementation. You have to imagine that issues in his state’s largest hospital have generated more than a few of the complaints reaching Sen. Grassley’s ears.
Do Sen. Grassley’s investigations put meaningful use incentive dollars at risk?