Healthcare Business News

Stage 2 attestations inch upward, latest CMS data indicate

By Joseph Conn
Posted: August 6, 2014 - 6:45 pm ET

Hospitals, physicians and other eligible professionals are inching closer to upgrading their electronic health-record systems, but significant progress remains limited to a small handful of providers, the latest CMS data show.

As of Aug. 1, 78 hospitals have attested to meeting the more stringent EHR Stage 2 requirements. That's just 24% of the 322 hospitals that have already attested for the 2014 reporting year, which began for them Oct. 1, 2013. The data was part of a CMS Data Review slide presentation given Wednesday to the federally chartered Health Information Technology Policy Committee.

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On the provider side, 1,898 physicians and other eligible professionals have attested to Stage 2. That’s 35% of the 5,365 physicians and other EPs who have attested during their payment period, which began Jan. 1, 2014.

The numbers of providers that have attained Stage 2 in either group is just a tiny fraction of the total participants in the EHR incentive payment program, and a similarly small percentage of those who have already achieved Stage 1 compliance since the program began making payments in 2011.

As of the end of June, 95% of 4,993 eligible hospitals and 89% of 537,600 physicians and other eligible professionals have registered to participate in the EHR incentive payment program, created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Of those, 92% of hospitals and 75% of physicians and other EPs have received at least one incentive payment, the CMS reports. The program has paid out $24.7 billion.

These most recent Stage 2 attestation numbers are up only slightly from July.

Under the current federal rules for the program, providers were to step up to Stage 2 if they had completed two or more years at Stage 1.

But in May, citing industry appeals for more time based in large measure on their inability to acquire and implement the necessary software, the CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a proposed rule that would potentially give some wiggle room to those in that group delayed by software unavailability.

The 60-day public comment period on that rule ended late last month.

The CMS and the ONC were unable to provide estimates on how many providers were scheduled to move up to Stage 2 this year and could potentially be impacted by the new rule making.

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn

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