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Meaningful use stage 2 attestations creep forward

According to CMS numbers publicized at a June Health IT Policy Committee meeting, meaningful use stage 2 attestation is happening. How deep into the U.S. healthcare provider market it will penetrate is still up for speculation and debate.

But there’s no denying it’s underway, and the healthcare system is in the crawling stage: Just eight eligible hospitals attested so far, and 447 eligible professionals, up from four hospitals and 50 providers the previous month. In contrast, 59% of eligible professionals have attested to stage 1, with 88% enrolled in the program. Some 91% of eligible hospitals have received payment for either Medicare or Medicaid EHR incentives.

Earlier this year, Congress ordered CMS to delay ICD-10. That could be good news for stage 2 attestation success among docs and hospitals, because it gives them more IT and administrative bandwidth to keep the meaningful use train rolling. Had ICD-10 been slated to go live this October instead of October 2015, it would have forced some providers to choose one over the other. CIOs with whom SearchHealthIT discussed such hard choices indicated that they’d consider forfeiting a year of meaningful use and not ICD-10; the revenue-stream ramifications of botching ICD-10 implementations would be devastating compared to losing one year’s EHR Incentive Program payment.

We’ll see how these early adopters inspire the next groups of stage 2 attesters. Conventional wisdom says those numbers will increase significantly over the coming months. The question is, how many hospitals and physicians will drop off the meaningful use train and not make it to stage 2, and what will come of the interoperability, health information exchange nirvana that stage 3 promises to make? In the end, the more providers stay on the train, the better off patients will be. So here’s rooting for the success of the health IT leaders among our providers to get the job done, whether they agree with every single criterion or not. It’s the principle of the program that counts, right?

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