CDC Report Cites Physicians Not Prepared For Stage 2 MU

Posted on by Frank J. Rosello

The Stage 2 numbers for eligible docs are, some might say, a little bit scary.

Most office-based physicians are not prepared for the October 2014 beginning attestation date. In fact, many aren’t even close. Only 13 percent say their electronic health record systems have the abilities to support 14 of the 17 core Stage 2 objectives, according to a new CDC trends report released last week.

The numbers aren’t all bad, however. The HITECH Act, which allocated $27 billion to eligible providers and hospitals that demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs, appears to have had a considerable effect on adoption rates.

For instance, office-based physicians’ EHR adoption rates — for any system — increased from 18 percent in 2001 to 78 percent in 2013. Moreover, for EHRs meeting the requirements for “basic systems,” rates climbed from 11 percent in 2006 to 48 percent seven years later.

In terms of state-by-state comparisons, CDC officials highlight the winners and losers for 2013. Physicians in New Jersey proved the most far behind with basic EHRs at 21 percent adoption. Other poor performers, who saw adoption rates lower than the national average, included Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming.

North Dakota took home the first place prize with 83 percent of eligible physicians having a basic EHR. Other top performers were Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Despite the report’s mixed reviews on office-based physician adoption rates, new National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD, lauded the findings as “encouraging,” but acknowledged there’s much more work to do.

“The report does also tell us there is more to do and we agree,” DeSalvo wrote in her Jan. 17 blog post. “Overall, we are encouraged to see that physician adoption of EHRs meeting meaningful use Stage 2 is increasing significantly and that physicians are recognizing the value of EHRs in the care setting.”

Not surprisingly, office-based physicians have fared considerably worse than their eligible hospitals counterparts. Just this past September, some 68 percent of hospitals reported having 2014 Edition certified EHR systems, according to readiness report by the folks at HIMSS Analytics, Healthcare IT News‘ sister organization. Sixty percent of hospitals have already met nine of 16 core objectives.

But for many struggling to keep up, it’s no easy feat, and the Stage 2 deadline extension that CMS announced back in December came as a big relief for most of the industry.

Mary Anne Leach, chief information officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado, called the Stage 2 extension “an enormous relief to the provider community” and the hospital alike, back in December.

“Our resources are already stretched thin,” she said. “Moving the Stage 2 deadline would significantly help our provider community and may even encourage more providers to ‘stay the course’ with meaningful use.”

Overall, the proposed deadline extension, which also includes a Stage 3 pushback to 2017, was lauded as “good news” for the folks at San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, said Elizabeth Renfree, director of interoperability at the health system. “We have been working to prepare for Stage 2, but are still waiting on code updates from our vendor that will not be delivered until January,” she wrote in an email to Healthcare IT News.

Other CDC report findings include:

Increased adoption occurred for all seven of the capabilities for which trend data from 2010 are available. Adoption increased 12% for the objective recording patient demographics and increased 80% for the objective sending prescriptions electronically

In 2013, the adoption of computerized capabilities supporting seven Stage 2 Core objectives for meaningful use ranged from 39 percent.

Article written by Erin McCann

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