With finalization of meaningful use criteria, I see the providers gearing up to tap the promised bounty of $27 billion. The focus seems to be only and only “meaningful use.” Do a search on "meaningful use" and over 1 million hits show up on Google. Nothing stimulates the senses more than stimulus dollars from the federal government.

I’m not deriding the stimulus bill here. Just being the devil’s advocate. Stimulus or no stimulus, looking at the modernization of antiquated systems and in turn processes could only be good for the U.S. health industry. But--and yes there’s always a “but”--are we getting too caught up in the hoopla of incentives? Do the prescribed matrices actually cover the existing challenges in patient safety and clinical quality assurance? Is the focus on cost reduction at the expense of focus on quality of care? The answer still seems a bit ambiguous. On one hand, study after sponsored study talks about the great impact on quality improvement of health care that can be directly attributed to the meaningful use reforms--and yet on the other hand one hears all sorts of rumblings in the corridors of the great Midwestern and Northeastern IDNs wherein either the meaningful use initiative is completely being discounted or is being handed over to CFOs. Don’t expect too many miracles of medicine coming out of the CFO offices.

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