The meaningful use program as at an interesting juncture at the moment. Most eligible hospitals and physicians have registered for the program, but there’s no telling how many will participate next year with more stringent requirements and other major initiatives like ICD-10 to worry about.
According to Government Health IT, CMS has paid out nearly $17 billion in incentives to hospitals and physicians. Through the end of October, 93 percent of eligible hospitals had registered for one of the EHR Incentive Programs, and 80 percent of eligible professionals had registered. A majority of those who have registered have successfully attested and received at least one incentive payment.
The meaningful use program “has allowed 1,000 flowers to bloom,” said Rob Tagalicod, director of CMS’ eHealth Standards and Services office. “The question remains: which of these blooms will be hardy enough to meet the challenges of summer?” The challenges, of course, being ICD-10 and EHR vendors recertifying for 2014. Furthermore, 30 percent of office-based physicians are switching vendors next year, which could be another barrier in meeting meaningful use.
Over 900 vendors achieved meaningful use certification the first time around, but only 40 or so have achieved complete ambulatory certification for 2014. Vendors have until summer 2014 to complete their re-certification since providers only have to report for 90 days, regardless of what stage they are on, but this is still a concern. Throw in ICD-10, the biggest health IT shift we’ve seen in decades, and there’s little wonder that no one knows what to expect for next year.
However, the Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) is working hard to make future meaningful use goals not just achievable, but useful. “This group continues to be the guiding light for this industry,” said Jacob Reider, acting national coordinator for health IT. As the HITPC works on stage 3, they are trying “to make it less prescriptive and focus on outcomes, so providers aren’t struggling so much,” Reider said.
For more on meaningful use updates, see Government Health IT.