Meaningful Use: News Round-Up

What’s happening with the federal government’s EHR adoption program?  Here are just some of issues that have grabbed headlines in the past couple of weeks:

Industry groups call for Meaningful Use Stage 2 extension. Most recently, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) issued a request to the government to modify the meaningful use Stage 2 timeline.  AAFP joins several other organizations that previously called for extra time including: College of Healthcare Management Information Executives (CHIME), American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Hospital Association (AHA).

AAFP contends that members won’t be able to secure the products, implementation services, training and support for Stage 2.

"Though we do not wish to impede the progress of early adopter physicians poised for MU Stage 2 on Jan. 1, 2014, we do not wish to see other family physicians who have committed to health care transformation through the thoughtful application of health IT abandon the MU journey due to factors beyond their control," said AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D.

Small and rural hospitals fall behind the pack. According to a new study from Mathematica Policy Research and the American Hospital Association, published in Health Affairs, many critical access hospitals and other smaller hospitals are at risk to fail achieving meaningful use and face Medicare payment penalties in 2015.

Between 2011 and 2012, the percentage of hospitals with at least 200 beds receiving meaningful use payments more than doubled.  However, hospitals with less than 100 beds had a lower rate. In addition, the proportion of critical access hospitals that received a meaningful use payment in 2012 declined slightly from 2011.

According to the study: “The majority of eligible hospitals did not achieve meaningful use in the first two years of the program. Furthermore, certain types of hospitals--particularly smaller institutions--were less likely than others to have received incentive payments. These findings suggest that at least as of the conclusion of the program’s first two years, the digital divide persists.”

The study, “Some Hospitals are Falling Behind in Meeting ‘Meaningful Use’ Criteria and Could Be Vulnerable to Penalties in 2015,” is available here.

The Office of the National Coordinator is in a state of transition. In early August, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., announced his resignation after serving as the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) for about two and a half years. Mostashari is expected to stay in the position until mid to late September.