Meaningful Use Numbers Disappointing But Not Surprising

Recently released numbers from the CMS Meaningful Use program were lower than expected, which further highlights the changes that need to be made in meeting federal guidelines for electronic health record requirements, according to officials 4 healthcare organizations.

Recently released numbers from the CMS Meaningful Use program were lower than expected, which further highlights the changes that need to be made in meeting federal guidelines for electronic health record (EHRs) requirements, according to officials from the American Medical Association (AMA), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

In a briefing, HHS’ HIT Policy Committee reported that less than 17% of hospitals achieved Stage 2 capabilities under Meaningful Use requirements. Furthermore, less than 38% of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals have met either stage of Meaningful Use so far. While eligible providers (EP) have until the end of February 2015 to meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 benchmarks, only 2% actually have so far.

“Meaningful Use participation data released today have validated the concerns of providers and IT leaders,” CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO, said in a statement. “These numbers continue to underscore the need for a sensible glide-path in 2015. Providers have struggled mightily in 2014, in many instances for reasons beyond their control. If nothing is done to help them get back on track in 2015, we will continue to see growing dissatisfaction with EHRs and disenchantment with Meaningful Use.”

Anders M. Gilberg, senior vice president of government affairs at the MGMA, said the low number is proof that physicians and vendors are facing significant challenges in Stage 2. He added that one way to change the program would be to shorten the reporting period in 2015.

"We're focused on transforming health and healthcare," said Carla Smith, MA, CNM, FHIMSS, executive vice president of HIMSS. "Meaningful Use Stage 2 and 2014 certified EHR technology are important drivers toward that outcome. If CMS continues to require a full-year of Meaningful Use reporting for 2015, we anticipate that large segments of providers will no longer be able to participate in the program—which hinders our nation's ability to improve the quality, safety, cost-effectiveness, and access to care."

AMA President-Elect Steven J. Stack, MD, added that the “one-size-fits all approach” needs to be done away with as well. The stringent requirements prevent physicians from even participating in the Meaningful Use program.

The organizations are pressing for CMS to shorten the reporting period and allow more flexibility in how providers meet Stage 2 requirements. Making these changes would improve program participation, they expect.