Physicians eager but unprepared to meet Meaningful Use requirements

Although roughly half of physicians in a recent survey said they planned to apply to the Meaningful Use incentive program in 2011, few would have qualified for payments because their electronic health record systems would not have met enough of the Stage 1 core requirements, according to a study published this week in Health Affairs

Of nearly 4,000 physicians responding to the survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, 51 percent said they intended to apply for the incentive payments. Only 11 percent, however, had an EHR system installed that would have met 10 out of 15 requirements for the Stage 1's core objectives.

Such statistics should serve as a guide to current and future efforts by regional extension centers (RECs) designated to aid physicians in their push toward meeting Meaningful Use, according to the study's authors. Physicians working with RECs toward Meaningful Use attestation have encountered multiple obstacles, according to analysis from earlier in the year by the ONC's Health IT Policy Committee.

"The 2011 survey results portray widespread gaps in readiness," the authors wrote. "Even in Wisconsin, the state with the highest percentage ready [to hit 10 of 15 core requirements], only 32 percent of all physicians reported this degree of readiness."

Despite the results of the Health Affairs study, the number of eligible hospitals and professionals registered to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs continues to climb, according to recent statistics released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Additionally, according to CMS's statistics, $4.5 billion in incentive payments have been made to eligible providers as of this past March.

To learn more:
- read the study's abstract

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