Study Finds Discrepancy Between Plans, Ability To Meet Meaningful Use

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Although many physicians said they intended to apply for meaningful use incentive payments, significantly fewer physicians actually were prepared to meet the requirements of the program, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs, Healthcare IT News reports.

Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

Chun-Ju Hsiao -- a health services researcher at CDC's National Center for Health Statistics -- led the study, which was based on a 2011 survey of 3,996 doctors (Manos, Healthcare IT News, 4/25).

Study Findings

The study found that:

  • 91% of surveyed U.S. physicians were eligible for participation in the meaningful use program because they received Medicare revenue or had the required Medicaid volume;
  • 51% said they intended to apply for meaningful use incentive payments; and
  • 11% reported having an EHR system with at least 10 of the 15 capabilities required for the Stage 1 core meaningful use objectives (Fleming, "Health Affairs Blog," Health Affairs, 4/24).

The study notes that CMS previously estimated that 10% to 36% of Medicare-eligible professionals and 15% to 47% of Medicaid-eligible professionals would demonstrate meaningful use in 2011 (Healthcare IT News, 4/25).

Among health care providers intending to apply for incentive payments, the study found that practices with 11 or more physicians were 14.3 percentage points more likely to attest to Stage 1 of the meaningful use program than practices with one or two physicians.

Implications

The study authors wrote, "The low level of current readiness illustrates the challenges in meeting the federal schedule for [meaningful use] incentives" ("Health Affairs Blog," Health Affairs, 4/24).

They added that the study findings could help guide the work of regional extension centers, which were created to help health care providers adopt health IT (Healthcare IT News, 4/25).


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