Are docs shunning Meaningful Use?

More physicians than ever are using electronic health records, but almost a fourth of them--22 percent--are avoiding the Meaningful Use program, according to an intriguing but questionable survey from Medscape.

It found that 83 percent of respondents were using EHRs, up from 74 percent in its 2012 survey. However, while 78 percent of respondents participating in the Meaningful Use program said they were attesting to Meaningful Use in 2014, the number of physicians who won't attest rose from 14 percent in 2012 to 16 percent. Another 6 percent said they were dropping out of the incentive program.

The survey's methodology indicates that 18,575 physicians in 25 specialties participated in an online survey between April 9 and June 3; however, no response rate was provided, and it wasn't clear how those participating were verified as physicians.

Statistics published earlier this month by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed that as of July 1, 2,823 EPs have attested in the 2014 reporting year; of those only 972 have attested to Stage 2 of the incentive program. Only 10 of the 128 hospitals that have attested for the 2014 reporting year have attested to Stage 2.

The survey also found that 7 percent of physicians had no plans to use or buy an EHR, up from 6 percent in 2012. Top reasons cited included interference with the physician/patient relationship, inability to afford a system and belief the incentives and penalties weren't worth it.

Interestingly, only 39 percent of respondents said they were using EHRs in an independent practice setting, indicating an increase of physicians who were leaving private practices to become employed hospital physicians. The EHR systems most used by respondents were Epic and Cerner, which also both happen to cater to hospitals and large practices.

Respondents also seemed divided in their satisfaction of the systems; while 34 percent said they improved clinical operations, 35 percent said the EHRs worsened them. Thirty-two percent said the systems improved patient service, while 38 percent said they worsened patient service.

Other studies have found a dichotomy between EHR adoption and satisfaction with their systems and with the Meaningful Use program. Some stakeholders have warned that more physicians will opt out of the Meaningful Use program unless it is significantly modified.

To learn more:
- read the report