Preliminary results from a study on meaningful use adoption published in the Feb. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reveal some startling results, none more than the 12.2% adoption rate among the country’s half-million eligible physicians, including single-digit attestation figures among specialists.
The study, authored by a group of health IT heavyweights from the University of Texas and Boston’s medical establishment, has one big caveat: The research only is current to May 2012; a Centers for Disease Prevention and Control study last December showed that 27% of office-based physicians had the EMR technology to attain meaningful use’s core measures and had either applied or planned to apply for incentives.
Looking at the federal ledger, the second half of 2012 made up for seemingly anemic numbers posted in the first half. CMS data showed that 100,000 providers had received EHR Incentive Program payouts as of last June, a number that had risen to 190,000 by December.
Furthermore, some 355,068 eligible hospitals, physicians, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists and chiropractors have registered (not all have yet attested) for incentives, CMS reports. While the NEJM research focuses on physicians, making an apples-to-apples comparison imprecise, it’s still clear to the eye test that meaningful use adoption has far more momentum behind it now than it did last June.
Still, NEJM‘s independent research showed some very interesting trends, which seem to validate another recent survey showing the EHR vendor market on the verge of a shakeout: While physicians who participated in the NEJM study reported using 310 different EHR vendors the top five (Epic, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, GE Healthcare, and NextGen) accounted for 58.5% of attestations, and the top 15 accounted for 80.1%.
It also shows that, even with the help of regional extension centers (RECs), meaningful use attestation isn’t as simple and straightforward as it might appear on paper: While the 62 federally funded help centers for physicians chasing meaningful use have all exceeded their enrollment targets, only 15.9% of enrollees attested to meaningful use as of last June. Barriers to attestation, the authors say, include a list familiar to everyone involved in health IT adoption: Cost, lack of knowledge, workflow challenges, and lack of interoperability.