Healthcare technology association advocates used the low Stage 2 meaningful use attestation rates announced Nov. 4 to reiterate their call for more flexibility in the meaningful use program.
At the Nov. 4 Health IT Policy Committee meeting, representatives from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) detailed the latest statistics available. As of Nov. 1, 11,478 eligible providers attested to Stage 2 and 840 hospitals had.
Noting that fewer than 17 percent of the nation's hospitals have demonstrated Stage 2 capabilities, officials from the American Medical Association, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and Medical Group Management Association used those numbers to renew their call for CMS to shorten the Meaningful Use reporting period in 2015. (They also noted that although eligible professionals have until the end of February to report their progress, only 2 percent have demonstrated Stage 2 capabilities thus far.
Given the low attestation data thus far for 2014 and the tremendous number of providers required, but likely unable to fulfill, Stage 2 for a full 365-days in 2015, healthcare leaders have pressed for a shortened reporting period in 2015, mirroring the policy of 2014.
"Meaningful Use participation data released today have validated the concerns of providers and IT leaders. These numbers continue to underscore the need for a sensible glide-path in 2015," said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell, in a prepared statement. "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."
CMS and ONC representatives noted that hospitals tend to wait until the end of their fiscal years and the very end of the attestation reporting period to attest, and they thought they would have a clearer picture in January.
At the Policy Committee meeting, ONC’s Karen DeSalvo, M.D., thanked the Policy Committee and ONC staff for their support during this period when she was asked to “lean in” on helping with Ebola and other public health issues leveraging resources of Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), the part of HHS that includes the Surgeon General and the Commission Corps of the Public Health Service. She said 71 Commission Corps members are in Liberia now standing up a hospital to serve healthcare workers who are working in hospitals in Liberia should they become sick.
She thanked the ONC team for continuing to execute every day. “The work is not lower priority and not stopping. I really feel the need to reassure that for folks personally on behalf of the Secretary. Health IT and ONC remain a priority for this department and this country,” she said. “If anybody wasn’t certain that it was a part of her top priorities, she certainly has it completely woven into delivery system reform, which is at the very top of her agenda.”