Release of Meaningful Use Data Prompts Industry Leaders to Urge HHS to Shorten Reporting Period

Healthcare leaders from across the nation are renewing calls for the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to shorten the meaningful use (MU) reporting period in 2015 and provide more program flexibility, citing concerns with lower-than-expected Medicare numbers and continued reports detailing nationwide difficulty in meeting federal guidelines for electronic health records (EHR) requirements.

According to newly released CMS numbers, less than 17 percent of the nation’s hospitals have demonstrated Stage 2 capabilities. Further, less than 38 percent of eligible hospitals (EHs) and critical access hospitals (CAHs) have met either stage of meaningful use in 2014, highlighting the difficulty of program requirements and foretelling continued struggles in 2015. And while eligible professionals (EPs) have until the end of February to report their progress, only 2 percent have demonstrated Stage 2 capabilities thus far.

Officials from the American Medical Association (AMA), College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) called the results disappointing, yet predictable.

“Meaningful use participation data released today have validated the concerns of providers and IT leaders. These numbers continue to underscore the need for a sensible glide-path in 2015,” said CHIME president and CEO Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME, CHCIO. “Providers have struggled mightily in 2014, in many instances for reasons beyond their control. If nothing is done to help them get back on track in 2015, we will continue to see growing dissatisfaction with EHRs and disenchantment with meaningful use.”

CMS data required by Congress indicate that more than 3,900 hospitals must meet Stage 2 measures and objectives in 2015 and more than 260,000 eligible professionals (EPs) will need to be similarly positioned by January 1, 2015. Given the low attestation data for 2014 and the tremendous number of providers required, but likely unable to fulfill, Stage 2 for a full 365-days in 2015, healthcare leaders have pressed for a shortened reporting period in 2015, mirroring the policy of 2014.

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Survey: Hospital Executives are Reluctant to Implement ACOs

According to a recent survey conducted by Purdue Healthcare Advisors, a nonprofit healthcare consulting organization, hospital executives are reluctant to implement ACOs — 46 percent — and they have no plans to implement an Accountable Care Organization (ACO)-like model in the near future.

Conducted in October 2013 among 206 hospital executives at a director level and above, the survey also reveals that executives are struggling with finding solutions for lower reimbursements and increased costs, while still maintaining an acceptable level of quality care.

“This survey has identified a significant need for advocacy and education to support hospitals and help them survive the wave of changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act,” said Mary Anne Sloan, director of Purdue Healthcare Advisors. “Hospital executives are charged with enhancing patient care and managing margins with a shrinking workforce and diminishing patient volumes.”

Hospital executives find ACOs to be unstable and financially risky

Executives are waiting for ACO models that are more stable and mature to avoid having to reinvest funds to implement changes or updates, according to the survey. The executives who do not have plans to implement an ACO model in the future (46 percent) cited the following reasons:

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