Great Meaningful Use and Eligible Providers Chat

I recently received an email from a regular reader, Dr. Mike, who owns a single specialty ortho group. In the email Dr. Mike talks about the challenges that Eligible Providers (EPs) are facing with meaningful use stage 2. He describes the story as falling on “deaf ears” at CMS and ONC. He also offered these stats on meaningful use to illustrate his case that meaningful use is a failure:

Only 38,472 have attested to Stage 2, My guess is that only about half actually did Stage 2 as there was the Stage 1 reprieve. Even so, that is only 18% of EPs have successfully attested which is an complete failure of MU.

Then, he asked me an important question:

Someone ask CMS and ONC the tough questions please…Now what are they going to do?

In response to him, I told him that I’d been talking about the challenge that meaningful use is for doctors for quite a while. However, I also told him that most hospitals are participating in meaningful use, so “we’ll see how that plays out.” What I meant is that in the meaningful use program we now have one group (EPs) that are not doing so well with meaningful use and their hospital counterparts that are relying on the millions in EHR incentive money (not to mention avoiding the penalties).

Then I answered his important question, “I can tell you what ONC and CMS are going to do. Spin It!”

Of course, Dr. Mike is great at engaging in conversation so he offered this reply:

1. Elizabeth Myers and the rest of CMS and ONC really did try to spin every bad number and “we cannot assess the numbers yet” was a constant theme.
2. I totally agree they will continue to try to spin the numbers or ignore them as long as possible. I’m not sure why they cannot face the truth about MU.
3. The 36K that did MU 2 are the cream of the crop. I would even argue that the other 82% are the cream also as they were the early adopters and gung ho about MU. The fact that 82% of the over achieving EPs have skipped out on MU 2 is a travesty. There is NO chance ONC and CMS is going to pull in the lagging EPs.
4. If you don’t know already, I own a single specialty Ortho group and we skipped MU completely after we saw the MU 2 rules. Proposed MU 3 just help us box it up and bury it.

I have no idea why ONC and CMS cannot let go of the program, let EHR vendors actually work with EPs for all the thing we are missing from our IT (usability, safety, security, efficiency). Right now we cannot do anything to customize our workflow or improve our experience as it will potentially decertify the EHR for MU. MU sucks all the air out of the room. EHRs right now are a billing and click box for MU system with a marginal clinical system slapped on…

Its about time ONC lets the market do its thing, instead of this constant objective, measures, menu, core, numerators, denominators, attesting, auditing disaster they created.

Once EPs leave the program, they are not coming back. So this should be a big deal for ONC and CMS.

I haven’t gone in and fact checked his numbers (I’d love to hear if you have different numbers), but the emotion in his comments is something I’ve heard from many providers. In fact, I’ve heard it from many EHR vendors. They’re tired of coding their EHR software to the test and the government regulations as well. They want to do more innovative things, but the government regulations are stifling their ability to do it. Resources only go so far.

I think we’re in the early days of provider discontent with meaningful use. However, it’s starting to boil. I’ll be interested to see what happens when it boils over. I’m predicting that will happen once many of these doctors start seeing the penalties hit their pocketbooks.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • John, it appears your doctor or this story may be a little out of date. On April 10th (right on the eve of HIMSS) CMS released a NPRM with SIGNFICANT changes to MU2 for 2015 and beyond. Listening to Elizabeth Myers at HIMSS it was clear that CMS did analyze the attestation numbers and made reasonable changes. They also explained that there are statutory requirements which constrain CMS from making wholesale changes to the program. The NPRM can be found here:

  • The Changes by CMS as they usually are were small and aimed at saving face with Congress and mainly allowed the 90 day reporting periods in previous stages. Sadly MU is another check box program that is impeding the development of real meaningful use of EMR technology in practices. The development of the MIPS penalty program will likely lead to many Doctors dropping out of medicare if they can and skipping the whole Medicare circus penalty.
    Sadly what could have been part of a bold improvement in healthcare is now turning into another too far too fast too much waste of time and energy that will worsen the quality of care and decrease access for many of our most vulnerable Americans…..What the failure of 60’s social programs are to poverty is what MU and PQRS and VBM are becoming to medicine…another failed social experiment where billions of dollars have been squandered.

  • Tim,
    I’m pretty sure he’s well aware of the changes. He reads this site and we’ve covered that multiple times.

    I can’t speak for him definitively, but my guess is he would say those changes are way too little too late.

    I agree with you that they made some reasonable changes to MU that were needed. If they didn’t make the changes you mentioned meaningful use would be literally on its deathbed. The changes they made made meaningful use tolerable for most hospitals. I don’t think the same is true for most EPs.

  • First of all it is not meaningful use, it is really meaningless abuse.
    Meaningless in that clicking boxes on in an EMR does not help the patient loose weight, control their BP , sugar……
    Abuse in that it diverts our energy and efforts into another useless endeavor. Never did MU at this office, I saw it as drinking the cool-aid.

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