Meaningful Use numbers grow, but are providers ready for Stage 2?

Providers have earned more than $5 billion in incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid reports. Through April, roughly 93,650 physicians and hospitals have received payments, officials said at yesterday's meeting of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's Health IT Policy Committee.

"It's ... not to look at these strong numbers and not feel encouraged that the combination of policies, programs and ... hard work at the state level and by hospitals and by eligible professionals have translated into a tremendous effort, will and execution on the part of the country," Farzad Mostashari, M.D., the national coordinator for health IT, said, according to Government Health IT's report on the meeting.

The number of eligible professionals and hospitals registered in the program continues to climb, as well. Forty-two percent of all eligible hospitals have received Meaningful Use incentives and one in nine Medicare eligible physicians and professionals are meaningful users of EHRs.

But in an American Hospital Association comment letter submitted to CMS April 30 AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack warned that the requirements for Stage 2 are not feasible, especially in light of the fact that more than 80 percent of hospitals haven't attained Stage 1. The AHA warned that elements of the proposed rule would "stand in the way of a successful program to support widespread adoption by all hospitals."

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) also said the Stage 2 criteria are "overly ambitious.

The deadline to comment on the proposed rules for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use is May 7.

To learn more:
- check out CMS' March 2012 Meaningful Use incentive program report (.pdf)
- see how Government Health IT crunches the numbers
- here's the AHA's comment letter (.pdf)
- here's CHIME's comment letter to CMS (.pdf)
- read CHIME's comment letter to ONC (.pdf)
- here are the proposed quality measures
- submit Stage 2 comments here 

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