Thursday, October 22, 2015

Value Creation for Healthcare Apps - or - Avoiding the Mistakes of "Meaningful Use"

Meaningful Use is debated
Any health care provider who hasn't been sealed in a Faraday cage for the last five years is likely aware of "Meaningful Use 3" or "MU3." Briefly, thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, CMS can impose incentive payments to promote the adoption and "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHRs).  Meaningful Use or MU has since become its own government program.  MU1 and MU2 are well underway, and CMS is preparing for the third phase, or MU3.
But a phunny thing happened on the way to this phase phorum. While insiders have saluted the good intentions behind the latest requirements, there's a lot of bad and even more ugly. It's telling when even the prestigious New England Journal publishes a highly critical perspective like this. It seems that skepticism over the fit of MU with the realities of clinical practices is being misinterpreted in some quarters as technophobic non-cooperation.

And so it goes.

Fortunately, for the Population Health Blog, its psychological EHR scars have long healed.  It, like a lot of other colleagues, has moved to a market of (for example) electronic care solutions that are not local and PC-based,  but are mobile and cloud-based.  And the good news is that - so far - there is no ARRA statute intended to enable a well-intentioned lawyer from uttering those Nine Most Terrifying Words just when the health app ecosystem is reaching critical mass.

But that doesn't mean that we can't learn from the EHR-MU Wars.  To wit:
1) Learn from mistakes; for example, better, not more, information technology begets more patient safety.

2) It's ultimately all about user value creation: for example, resist linking the technology to billings/revenue and link it to care/satisfaction.

3) Design with the end-user in mind: for example, release no product unless the intended user has shown that it can fit in their (provider) work flows or their (patient) home setting

4) Align the time frames: keep in mind that the short-term time technology horizon of 2-3 years to may not align with the 5 or more years it takes to "bend the curve" for a insurance risk-bearing organization

5) Resist the allure of government help: while incumbent companies may believe federal legislation may turbocharge their business models, the MU suggests that the downsides are considerable.

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