# Meaningful Use is a binary contest—you make it or you don’t

If you haven’t begun the process of selecting and implementing an EHR, Meaningful Use may not be something with which to concern yourself.  The reason, you will probably not be done in time to collect the incentive money. How can that be stated with such assurance?

If you haven’t begun, there may be no rush to acquire an EHR, although the EHR vendors will not tell you that. Don’t cost yourself tens of millions get to have a chance at a few.

Meaningful Use will be delayed because few if any of the providers will pass the Meaningful Use Audit. Washington created a multi-billion dollar lottery, and they are having trouble finding any providers who are able to purchase tickets.

Now for those whose EHR implementation is well underway or up and running — should you try for the incentive money? That’s a valid question. Just because someone is offering you a check doesn’t mean you have to take the money. Here are some questions you ought to be able to answer prior to deciding if Meaningful Use is meaningful to you.

• Meeting MU requires a shift in your direction; you take on the MU tasks and sacrifice some of what you were going to do
• What are those tasks, what resources will they consume
• What year is the best year for you to meet MU; 2011-2015?
• Did you know you can still maximize incentive dollars if you pass MU in 2013?
• However, that gives you almost no time to react to Stage 2 & 3 requirements

Meaningful Use is a binary contest — you make it or you don’t. The decision to meet Meaningful Use does not have to be binary. There is no way to collect for meeting 90 percent of the requirements. How might you financially calculate the probability of obtaining the incentives? Let’s begin with Stage 1—the easy one.

• Calculate the maximum incentive you could receive
• Multiply that figure by the degree of certainty you have that your plan will be completed on time — a number less than 1
• Then multiply it by the probability you think exists for passing the audit, another number less than 1
• Calculate your cost to complete Stage 1, then figure out your ROI — not much is it?
• This makes evaluating Stage 2 & 3 calculations seem rather superficial.

Take time to evaluate your options. The only people who will look foolish are those who don’t know what questions to ask.