Montana Hospital Meaningful Use Suit Could Be First of Many

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With less than 10 percent of EHR vendors whose products met 2011 edition meaningful use certification criteria going on to meet the 2014 edition criteria, hospitals and physician organizations who bought the wrong product may need to turn to the courts in hopes of getting some of their investment back.

That is what Mountainview Medical Center in White Sulphur Springs, Mont., did last month when it filed suit in the U.S. Federal Court’s 9th District against NextGen Healthcare Information Systems.

According to the small critical-access hospital’s suit, the hospital invested close to half a million to have a certified EHR system installed by June 1, 2013. When NextGen did not meet that deadline, the hospital extended the deadline to Oct. 1. According to the suit, it then learned that NextGen did not have a system that was certified for 2014 edition criteria.

“The system to be installed was to be one which would permit [Mountainview Medical Center] to demonstrate ‘meaningful use’ of such electronic health records through all stages of applicable federal regulations,” the lawsuit said.

According to Modern Healthcare, as of Oct. 1 of last year, hospitals are ineligible for EHR incentive payments if they are still using 2011 edition-compliant software. If the EHR vendor couldn’t furnish a 2014 edition-compliant upgrade by that time, the hospital was the one to lose out on money meant to help pay for the EHR system in the first place.

The American Hospital Association had raised concerns earlier in 2013 that this regulatory change was unfair to hospitals who had no way of determining ahead of time which vendors would be ready with an upgrade in time and little ability to switch vendors if their vendor was not ready.