Is meaningful use losing momentum?

July 10, 2014 in Medical Technology


It will either be a passing breeze or the early rumblings of a storm to come.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ revealed the ostensibly shockingly low percentage of hospitals and eligible providers to attest to Stage 2 thus far and, in so doing, insisted that it’s “early” and “dangerous” to draw conclusions.

Indeed, when Elisabeth Myers of the CMS office of e-health standards and services said that only 1 percent of eligible providers and 3 percent of eligible hospitals have thus far attested to Stage 2 meaningful use, she was careful to explain that very few providers were positioned to attest before June’s end. Without putting an exact number on it, Myers continued that only those organizations that had implemented a 2014-certified EHR by January 1, completed a calendar quarter reporting period by April 1 and attested by June 30, were in that elite category of small percentages.

[See also: CMS reports paltry numbers for Stage 2.]

The surprisingly tiny number of hospitals and providers attesting “is a valid concern,” said Paul Tang, MD, vice chair of the HIT Policy Committee and chief medical and innovation officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, agreeing with Myers assertion that it’s important “not to over-interpret on a small number.”

That distinction is important. And it’s one which meaningful use proponents and skeptics alike really should cede to CMS — only this once, though.

Because Myers addressed the Health IT Policy Committee on July 8, and 2014 second quarter attestations were still to come, the real, tangible indications about just how many EPs and EHs are moving forward with Stage 2 successfully enough to attest lies ahead.

Three months from now CMS could report a hefty increase in attestation rates for both EPs and EHs, thereby indicating that the program is, in fact, on track. Or not.

That second option is particularly concerning because leading health networks that want to stay at the front-of-the-pack still have to conduct two years of Stage 2 prior to the beginning of 2017 in order to race into Stage 3 at that point — meaning they really need to be moving in that direction by year’s end.

And like DuBois Regional Medical Center CIO Tom Johnson these organizations need to be thinking not just about the current stage but the subsequent one as well.

DuBois, which Johnson said integrated meaningful use into everything it does beginning with Stage 1, found the health information exchange and patient portal requirements to be the most difficult parts of Stage 2.

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