Stage 2 MU Rules: Shifting Competition from Hoarding to Sharing

Competition today in healthcare encourages care providers to hoard patient data.

That’s inefficient, ineffective, and just plain wrong. 

But we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel — the proposed Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) rules reinforce new, evolving accountable care payment approaches. The rules support moving competition in healthcare to the right bases — sharing and adding value to patient health record data.

Today: Competition Based on Hoarding Patient Data

Health care providers today have incentive to hoard patient health record information. They might phrase it as:

I don’t get paid to share data with other doctors and hospitals — I get paid to do procedures, tests, surgeries, admissions….

HIPAA has severe penalties for sharing data inappropriately. I could spend time in jail for violating privacy/security regs for sharing patient data when I shouldn’t. Better to be safe than sorry.

Why would I want to share data with other doctors or hospitals? They are competitors. Patient data is MY competitive asset. Would I like to have access to their data? Of course…but no way will I share my data.

Would I want to provide other care providers with information to help keep a patient shared care plan current? What’s a shared care plan?

Competition Based on Hoarding: Wrong!

In an earlier editorial, I posed a subtle but critical question

What are acceptable bases of competition in health care?

The distinctions here are not well understood and often go undiscussed

It’s OK for care providers to compete on the bases of quality, price, patient satisfaction, and many other factors

It’s NOT OK for care providers to compete on the basis of controlling or limiting access to patient health information. It’s just not right.

While in many industries we accept the idea of creating proprietary, non-interoperable technology as a means of competitive differentiation, healthcare is different. We are talking about people here — our children, our parents, our selves. How do you feel when you think about care providers controlling or limiting access to your health record as a business strategy?

Tomorrow: Stage 2 MU Rules Incentivize Sharing and Adding Value to Patient Data

Stage 2 Meaningful Use rules begin to shift the bases of competition in healthcare:

FROM: Hoarding

TO: Incentivizing appropriate sharing and adding value to patient health record information

To qualify for MU incentives from the government, care providers must meet minimal requirements for health information exchange both among providers and with patients.  For example, some of the Stage 2 MU requirements for eligible professionals (physicians) include:

Online access to health records — 50% of patients are provided EHR data within 4 days; 10% of patients must view or transmit their information

Visit summaries — 50% of patients are provided clinical summaries within 24 hours of office visits

Patient Education — 10% of patients are provided with patient-specific education resources

Transition of Care — 65% of patients are provided with summary of care records

Secure Electronic Messaging — 10% of patients send messages through the physician’s EHR

These requirements set the stage to shift the bases of competition to the right reasons

We’ll post your EHR data online within 3 days, er, make that 2 days…

Our online patient portal is easier to use than Brand X…

Over 75% of our patients communicate with us through email…

Want your patient data online? With our system, it’s 3 keystrokes away, not 300.

Now, that’s meaningful!

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