Survey: Hospitals will struggle to meet 'meaningful use'

All the pundits, vendors and interest groups have weighed in on the Dec. 30 proposal for "meaningful use" of EMRs, but what do the people who actually have to demonstrate meaningful use to earn Medicare bonus payments think?

According to a survey from Computer Sciences Corp., hospitals on average are about halfway toward meeting the proposed criteria, and only one-quarter of those queried have 70 percent of the requirements covered, suggesting that HHS and CMS may have set the bar too high. For hospitals, the program starts Oct. 1, 2010, the first year of federal fiscal year 2011. "A projection of our results to the U.S. distribution of hospitals by size indicates that our survey likely overstated readiness slightly," CSC says in its survey report. The consulting firm interviewed executives at 58 hospitals nationwide last fall before CMS released its proposed rule, but after a federal advisory panel floated a preliminary plan.

Readiness appears high in the areas of privacy and security, according to CSC, though hospitals seem to be unclear about new, tighter HIPAA protections authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Respondents also seem to be lagging in their ability to report on compliance with quality measures. "Many hospitals report they have the required capabilities but they are not in active use. About two-thirds have assessed where their current systems have gaps that must be filled to achieve meaningful use," the consulting firm reports.

To learn more:
- take a look at this NextGov story
- download the CSC report (.pdf)