Meaningful Use Monday: Meaningful Use? – Not Yet

At the recent HIMSS annual conference, many statistics were released touting the early success of the EHR incentives/meaningful use program:

  • 21,000 providers have registered, with many more having indicated their intention to do so.
  • 62 Regional Extension Centers have enrolled 47,000 primary care physicians.
  • 6 certification bodies (ATCBs) have certified 415 EHRs and modules.
  • $20 million in incentives has already been paid to 25 providers (including hospitals) in 4 states.

Does this mean that anyone has successfully demonstrated meaningful use? Not yet. The incentives were awarded by the first Medicaid programs for the “adoption, implementation, or upgrade” (A/I/U) of certified EHR technology—a Medicaid-only provision for first-year incentives. The first demonstrations of meaningful use will not be attested to until April, when the early Medicare participants will complete their 90-day reporting period.

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EMR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

About the author

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps

Lynn Scheps is Vice President, Government Affairs at EHR vendor SRSsoft. In this role, Lynn has been a Voice of Physicians and SRSsoft users in Washington during the formulation of the meaningful use criteria. Lynn is currently working to assist SRSsoft users interested in showing meaningful use and receiving the EHR incentive money.

5 Comments

  • Aren’t statistics awesome?
    This isn’t aimed at Lynn, this is aimed at the folks at the HIMSS conference that think these numbers actually mean something.

    You can (try to) make them say whatever you want.
    > 21,000 providers have registered – Of course, they want their money!

    > 415 EHRs have been certified? Nothing like having choice

    > $20 million have been paid to 25 providers? Wow, if I do my math correctly that would mean each provider got $800,000. Hmm, rather than saying “including hospitals” maybe that should say…mostly hospitals (or all hospitals except a very large medical group?).

    Why hasn’t anyone “proven” Meaningful Use yet?
    Could it be because you just can’t?
    You can go online, and begin to fill out your Meaningful Use application…but you can’t get very far…as the system isn’t ready yet.

    Just remember everyone…that 90 day clock is ticking.

  • One of the perverse incentives of the REC program is that the vast majority of provider sign-ups to date are those with existing EHR installs (albeit, of course, all of whom have to upgrade to the ONC-ATCB versions). We get two “milestone” payments right off, one for recruiting the docs, the 2nd because they’ve “implemented” — notwithstanding that they did so before we engaged them (the 3rd and final REC milestone subsidy payment comes at attestation).

    If a principal national ONC goal is to get docs quickly off paper on a massive scale, RECS are nonetheless incentivized, via their grant structure and the MU priority, to pick off the “low hanging fruit”, subordinating the paper practices, which take a LOT more work.

    The gold rush is now on to get at that Year One, Stage One money (particularly on the easier A/I/U side), given the concern that Congress might manage to pull it back in. And, for those who discount the likelihood, all is would take would be a “poison pill” amendment in an otherwise must-pass Senate bill (notwithstanding that the MU funds are ostensibly inoculated by virtue of being “obligated” and not subject to “annual appropriations legislation” status).

    Gonna be an interesting year.

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