EHR Incentive ROI – Your Milage May Vary

Our first hospital to attest for EHR Incentives is expected to receive $3,173,094 for Stage 1. To qualify for that incentive we spent $381,133. This includes the cost for 5,219 hours of IT time to complete the work.

So, it surprised me when I was listening to a CIO discuss Meaningful Use on one of the podcasts. He stated that Meaningful Use was an underfunded mandate. That is far from our early experience at Ministry.

I don’t think either of us are incorrect. We just appeared to be starting from different positions and we took different paths to attest for Stage 1.

In our pursuit of the EHR incentives provided under the stimulus bill we piloted one hospital to create a standard approach for the remaining 14. Our pilot site was our most technically sophisticated hospital, so the work to be done was less than typical. In fact, this hospital (Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston, Wi) is an all digital hospital that has had virtually all orders entered by physicians since 2006. We have invested over $100M in IT at this hospital, it is rewarding to know that we made decisions that positioned us well to achieve Meaningful Use. This incentive money offsets a small portion of that investment.

I believe that the effort to get this hospital positioned to attest for Stage 1 was as close to minimal as any hospital in the country. In my mind this is a best case for return on investment. Our remaining hospitals will be closer to break-even.

One thing that is not significantly different between my experience and the CIO on the podcast is the software. We both use GE Centricity Enterprise as our core HIS system. However, we did self-certify Centricity (and a collection of other EHR technologies) rather than upgrade to GE’s certified version. This also saved us money and allowed us to move quickly.

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