The Maginot Line—Ligne Maginot. France built the Maginot Line to protect itself from Germany so it would not be overrun as it was in World War One.
France built hundreds of miles of fortification to:
- Disrupt Germany’s strategy
- Avoid a surprise attack
- To be used for a counteroffensive
- To hold off the Germans while the French army could be brought up
How well did it work? The Germans went around it, and flew gliders over it.
Meaningful Use has become the government’s de facto Maginot Line for large healthcare providers, hospitals. It has single-handedly disrupted hospitals’ business strategies. How did it do that—by offering cash. The government’s offer of cash is disrupting the large provider model.
As you may have guessed, I am a fan of disrupting the model, but only as long as the disruption adds value to the model. The disruption of which I am writing disrupts the model in a negative way.
There are no hospital executives who would paint their hospitals pink if the government developed an incentive program. However, even if they did make a grab for the cash, they would not be sacrificing their business model, just their dignity.
You cannot throw a consultant from a high-rise without hitting a healthcare executive discussing what they need to do to hit Meaningful Use. Nobody is questioning the government’s motivation behind Meaningful Use. That in and of itself should set off alarm bells.
In the interest of transparency, I am a huge EHR fan—provided it is done correctly. Done correctly means hospitals create their own definition of Meaningful Use.
At a minimum, before deciding to meet Meaningful Use, hospitals should be able to develop detailed answers to the following catechisms:
- What part of your business strategy must you forego to meet MU?
- What is the total cost of meeting MU?
- What is the probability your hospital will complete the requirements in the allotted time?
- What is the probability your hospital will pass the MU audit?
- Does the sacrifice of your strategy plus the cost create a reasonable business case for meeting MU?
- What percentage of your IT resources will be dedicated to meeting MU?
- What tasks will IT not accomplish in order to meet MU?
- Does the cost of meeting MU exceed the cash incentive?
- Should you try to meet MU?
- If yes, by when?
Without being able to answer these questions, are executives abdicating their leadership to the government?
Here is one final question to consider. Other than the incentive money, will meeting MU yield a single additional dollar of revenue for your hospital?