MU2 Compliance Extended Due to Slow Adoption Rate

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TL;DR
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.

MU2 Extension

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

3 thoughts on “MU2 Compliance Extended Due to Slow Adoption Rate

  1. First off, I have no sympathy for vendors that have not met the 2014 requirements. These have been known for some time and it goes to show the laissez faire attitude that most EMR vendors have. The real pain is going to be felt by the providers that are using non-compliant EMRs as they are the ones that the penalties will affect. With that being said, the providers are not holding their vendors accountable. Given that the attestation for year 1 of MU-2 is only 90 consecutive days, I feel like there will be a race to the finish line, with many providers waiting until the last quarter to attest. That will increase the pressure that these providers are putting on their vendors. The question then is whether or not the vendors will be able to meet the deadline that will allow providers to be trained on new functionality in time to meet the 90 day attestation period. Personally, given the track record of most vendors, I have my doubts.

  2. I agree with Jeff that providers are not holding vendors accountable. With the CMS Hardship Exception, they are even less likely to do so.

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