As 2014 came to a close, the Meaningful Use program continued to fall short of its intended goals. Although more than 500,000 providers have registered for the Meaningful Use program, only 4% of professionals and 35% of hospitals have attested to Stage 2 of the program. These disappointing numbers come despite the fact that CMS watered down some of the requirements and moved the deadline back from November 30th to December 31st. Many providers are calling for the CMS to reduce its 365 day reporting requirement to 90 days but CMS remains steadfast behind the 365 day requirement.
The latest projections indicated that as many 257,000 providers will face payment penalty in 2015 for failing to achieve the Meaningful Use (MU) requirements for 2014. The MU penalty for 2015 will be a 1% reduction in physician fee schedule payments. Additionally, 28,000 doctors face a 2% penalty in 2015 for failing to meet not only the MU requirements but also the e-prescribing criteria. About 200 hospitals will face similar penalties. The penalties affect Medicare claims beginning January 5, 2015, and providers have until February 28, 2015 to appeal the penalty.
A survey from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has found that incentive payments are the biggest reason that providers have adopted EHR systems. The survey found that 59% of providers reported having a meaningful use EHR. Almost two-thirds of those providers said that incentive payments were a major reason that they adopted the EHR. CMS has paid billions in incentive payments to date.
EHR adoption was divided between primary care providers and specialists. Most primary care providers have adopted EHR systems, but many specialists have not. Among those providers who did not adopt EHR systems, two-thirds stated it was because they did not have adequate time, money, or staff.
In its press release, ONC referred to interoperability as a major driver of adoption, even though data exchange capability was mentioned as a factor for only 36% of those who had adopted EHR systems. Other factors, including certification requirements, were larger factors for adopters.
CMS, however, is looking to make some changes in the way quality is measured for the Meaningful Use Program. The National Quality Forum (NQF) is looking at new quality measures to use for 20 federal programs, including Meaningful Use. The NQF is considering 202 new measures, of which a number will be adopted for the coming year. The proposed new measures are open for public comment.