Very few practices according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are complying with Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements. CMS recognized the slow adoption rate and has thus extended the adoption rate through 2016.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), since January 1, 2014, only 50 eligible professionals (EPs) have attested to Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU2). With regard to hospitals, only four facilities have attested to MU2 since October 1, 2013.
MU2 requires that there be improved interoperability between EHR systems. It’s designed to aid the exchange of information between providers and promote patient participation through secure access to their health information. If hospitals or physicians cannot attest to MU2 and they haven’t received a hardship exemption, they may face Medicare reimbursement penalties.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) claims that the number of vendors offering a complete 2014 certified EHR system was 97 as of mid-April. CMS data shows that 17% of EPs use software that hasn’t been certified to the “2014 edition,” a requirement in order to meet MU2 standards. Providers that cannot attest to MU2 will either have to wait for vendor upgrades or switch to another EHR system.
CMS recognizes that many EHR vendors may be lacking necessary software upgrades, so it has extended MU2 through 2016 to give providers more time to attest. Providers that haven’t yet attested to MU2 for 2014 may be able to qualify for a hardship exemption for the 2015 reporting year.
Based on the CMS hardship exception application, EPs can now select “2014 EHR Vendor Issues” as a reason for exemption. The application states: “During the calendar year (2014) preceding the payment adjustment year (2015), the EP’s EHR vendor was unable to obtain 2014 certification or the EP was unable to implement Meaningful Use due to the 2014 EHR certification delays.”
The application also lists lack of infrastructure, unforeseen/uncontrollable circumstances, lack of face-to-face interaction, and lack of control over the availability of Certified EHR technology as other reasons for an exemption. Providers whose applications for exemption are approved won’t be subject to the penalty. However, they’ll also not receive the incentive payment.
72 hospitals and 600 EPs have applied for hardship exemptions so far, as reported by CMS. The last day to submit an application is July 1, 2014 at midnight EDT.
Author: Lauren Daniel