Although physicians are adopting electronic health records in ever-increasing numbers, only a few--12.2 percent--have actually successfully attested to Meaningful Use, according to a letter published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The letter's authors, from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and elsewhere, reviewed attestation rates of physician eligible professionals and enrolled in the Medicare Meaningful Use program. They found that as of May 2012, 62,226 EPs had met the Meaningful Use requirements, comprising only 12.2 percent of the estimated eligible professionals in the U.S. The rate varied greatly by state, with the fewest percentage of attesters in Alaska (1.9 percent), and the highest rate in North Dakota (24 percent).
Regional extension centers have helped to pad those figures, but not by much; only 15.9 percent of eligible physicians who have joined RECs for attestation assistance have shown Meaningful Use of their systems, according to the study's authors.
"Although these data suggest rapid growth in the number of providers achieving Meaningful Use, this pace must accelerate for most eligible professionals to avoid penalties in 2015," the researchers warned, according to MedPage Today.
Other studies have reported that physicians are flocking to EHRs, with one reporting that adoption rates for family physicians likely will climb to 80 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, a data brief published in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics reported that 72 percent of office-based physicians were using some form of EHR in 2012, an increase of 26 percent from 2011.
However, there's a big difference between EHR use and Meaningful Use as required by the incentive program, and these other studies did not indicate how many of these physician users had actually successfully attested to the latter.