A clear majority of survey respondents indicated it was either “highly likely” or “somewhat likely” their organizations would hurdle the meaningful-use bar that's been set for them in 2011 for Stage 1 (70%). Their optimism held for 2013 and Stage 2 (75%), even though only rough estimates of meaningful-use targets have been discussed beyond the first set.
Breaking those numbers down between hospital leaders and medical group practice leaders, there was a remarkable consistency in attitudes, albeit with a slight edge in “confidence” expressed by hospital leaders. For example, 50% of hospital leaders surveyed said it was “highly likely” they would meet meaningful-use requirements by 2011, while 38% of group leaders said it was “highly likely.”
Dr. Grace Terrell is president and CEO of Cornerstone Health Care, a fast-growing, 300-physician multispecialty group practice based in High Point, N.C. The group has more than 60 care sites and also has physicians in eight area hospitals. Terrell exudes confidence, indicating in the survey that it was “highly likely” her group would meet meaningful-use benchmarks at all stages.
The group started an EHR in 2005 with a $3.2 million initial investment and will need to upgrade to the latest certified version of its EHR vendor's system. “That's coming in a few months,” she says. The group also needs to install a patient portal, “but we have a timeline for it and don't see obstruction right now.” Portals are seen by many providers as one way to meet meaningful-use requirements for communicating electronically with patients.
The road ahead for Dr. George Voigtlander, medical director at Pawnee County Memorial Hospital and Rural Health Clinic, Pawnee City, Neb., a 15-bed critical-access hospital, is looking a bit more rocky.
Voigtlander indicated on his survey that it was “somewhat likely” the hospital would meet meaningful-use targets at all three stages, but he marked “unsure” regarding whether the hospital would avoid Medicare penalties by 2015.
At Pawnee County Memorial, the IT staff can barely be called part-time. Once a week, “we have a man who is in for half a day,” Voigtlander says. The remote-hosted EHR, installed about six months ago, presents the biggest challenge to meeting the tiny hospital's meaningful-use goals, Voigtlander says.
“I keep hoping that our vendor will deliver the product that they promised,” he says. “Right now, it's not what they initially promised.”