PR Blunder of the Year: Federation of American Hospitals Says Meaningful Use Should Not Tie to Quality Improvement

These guys really don’t get it, and they need to be called on the carpet, taken to the woodshed, or pick your own favorite cliche.


The Federation of American Hospitals (FAH) sent a letter to Dr. David Blumenthal (National Coordinator for Health IT) arguing that “Meaningful Use” funding should not be tied to achievement of quality measures.  The FAH is the trade association for for-profit hospitals; the letter is dated August 26 and a copy is available on the HealthHombre website, with a deserved hat tip.

First, let me concede that they make a reasonable point on p. 3 when they say “Under it’s framework, the Policy Committee has recommended that HHS should adopt a measure for 2013 requiring a 10 percent reduction in preventable admissions from 2012 to qualify as a meaningful EHR user.”  This measure deserves discussion.

Here’s the implicit threat of a lawsuit — the nuclear bomb:

It has been suggested that “meaningful use” funding should  be tied to provider performance on outcomes-related quality measures.  However, our outside legal experts view the ARRA funding as tied only to accelerating the adoption and use of EHRs by providers and clinicians, and not to patient care achievements or outcomes that may be attained while using EHRs….

The FAH is concerned because it appears HHS may share the Policy Committee’s view and may establish “meaningful use” policy that goes beyond its statutory authority or the intent of Congress….Thus our outside legal counsel advises that a meaningful user is a hospital that submits the required information only.

…we believe the Policy Committee’s recommended approach goes beyond the ARRA’s statutory authority.

You would think for-profit hospitals would be EAGER to compete based on objective quality measures, wouldn’t you?

…and you would think a tap on the shoulder would be more appropriate to make their point than the threat of the nuclear bomb.

Christensen’s theories of disruptive innovation point out the great lengths that incumbents will go to protect the status quo.  Here’s living proof.

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