Meaningful Use registrations continue to rise

The number of eligible hospitals and professionals registered to participate in the electronic health record incentive program now has topped 225,765, with another 1,3973 physicians and 128 hospitals registering in March, according to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The numbers of registrants collecting incentive payments each month also has been growing, with the number of hospitals receiving payments rising to 115 in March, from 84 in February. The number of payments to physicians dipped slightly in March to 8,651, from 12,356 in February, but that may be because that was the last month physicians could register to receive 2011 payments. The March numbers are higher than January's numbers, in which 7,668 eligible professionals received payments.

CMS also reported that the program has now paid out $4.5 billion in incentive payments.

Although the numbers look promising for the incentive program, a massaging of the numbers proves a little less rosy. Of the 225,275 physicians and hospitals that have registered for the Medicare and Medicaid programs, only 76,612 of them (34 percent) have successfully attested and received their payments. So it remains to be seen whether 2012 will be as successful as 2011. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services at the beginning of the year acknowledged that much of the success in 2011 was due to the registering of the early adopters.

Moreover, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) expressed concern about the popularity of the program, reporting earlier this month that the number of eligible hospitals and professionals registered to participate in the EHR incentive program--and the number of them successfully attesting--is lower than expected.

To learn more:
- here's CMS' monthly statistics report (.pdf)
- read this Healthcare IT News article
- read MedPAC's report to Congress (.pdf)
- here's MedPAC's presentation (.pdf)