Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Most Hospitals Meet Requirements of EHR Incentive Programs

By Vera Gruessner

While the achievements of the EHR Incentive Programs are up for debate, the number of eligible hospitals participating in and attesting to meaningful use stages is higher than ever. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that more than nine in 10 eligible hospitals have garnered meaningful use of certified health IT products.

Based on hospital bed numbers, out of all large hospitals, 96 percent have achieved Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements while 92 percent of medium-sized hospitals have met Stage 1. Even though 17 percent of small urban hospitals are not participating in the EHR Incentive Programs, as much as 78 percent of other hospitals in this category met Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements. Additionally, 93 percent of small rural hospitals attested to meaningful use.

Children’s hospitals, however, have lower numbers with only 57 percent attesting to Stage 1 Meaningful Use regulations. In addition to the large participation of eligible hospitals, CMS stated that 86 percent of eligible hospitals have now been paid through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. The financial incentives were provided to 94 percent of all urban hospitals with 50 or more beds that successfully attested to meaningful use requirements.

Additionally, 70 percent of all urban hospitals with less than 50 beds have been paid while more than 90 percent of all rural hospitals were also granted financial incentives. With regard to both the Medicaid and Medicare EHR Incentive Programs, 94 percent of all eligible hospitals have been paid for meeting meaningful use requirements.

These eligible hospitals include short-term general, critical access, and children’s hospitals. Along with demonstrating meaningful use, many facilities were also paid for adopting, implementing, and upgrading health IT systems through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

While many hospitals and healthcare providers are still focused on achieving Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released the Stage 3 Meaningful Use proposed rule several weeks ago. The comment period is currently open for stakeholders to give feedback.

The proposed rule continues to address EHR interoperability and health information exchange within the medical industry. There is some flexibility for providers established in the proposed rule, according to The National Law Review.

Out of the eight objectives set forth for Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements, healthcare providers would only need to attest to a particular portion of each measure and thereby attest to standards that are relevant to their practice.

The proposed rule also made significant inroads with advancing patient engagement agendas. For example, providers will gain more tools for communicating with patients such as the use of application program interfaces (APIs). Health IT tools like the patient portal would allow patients to access their medical information through their healthcare facility and permit the care team to communicate more efficiently with the patient.

One aspect under the proposed rule, however, may be difficult to achieve. Providers will need to ensure that 25 percent of their patients viewed, downloaded, or transmitted their electronic medical data. Currently, all eligible hospitals and eligible professionals are expected to attest to Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements by January 1, 2018.

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