As the eligibility period drew to a close last month, only 4% of healthcare CIOs indicated in an online survey that their provider organizations had qualified for and been paid federal incentives for electronic health-record adoption and meaningful use under the Medicare-administered portion of a program funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Meaningful-use payment recipients scarce: report
Another 9% of provider CIOs indicated in the survey, conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, that their healthcare provider organizations—at least 87% of which were hospitals—had qualified and had been paid under the Medicaid portion of the EHR incentive program.
The survey was conducted online between Sept. 8 and Sept. 23 and drew responses from 198 CHIME members. A copy of the 11-page survey report (PDF) is available on the CHIME website.
The first year of Stage 1 of the federal EHR incentive program ended for hospitals on Sept. 30 and will end for physicians and other eligible professionals on Dec. 31, 2011. Hospitals, to qualify for payments under the Medicare program, must have achieved 90 consecutive days of meaningful use of a certified electronic health-record system by Sept. 30. To receive payments yet this first year, hospitals still have up to 60 days after the qualification deadline to submit to the CMS an attestation they had met the meaningful-use requirements in the fiscal year before the Sept. 30 cutoff.
Eligible professionals will have 60 days after Dec. 31 to attest they had been meaningful users in calendar year 2011.
In contrast to its Medicare counterpart, the Medicaid EHR incentive program does not require providers to meet meaningful-use targets their first year, which likely explains why more hospital CIOs reported receiving payments thus far under Medicaid than Medicare. Qualified hospitals can receive payments from both programs.
One interesting data point raised by CHIME participants is that twice as many healthcare organizations (26%) will have qualified for incentive payments in the first year as were paid (13%) by Medicare and Medicaid combined, according to CIOs surveyed.
The survey did not ask the CIOs of these organizations whether they were intentionally holding back on attestation in the first year, a strategy recommended by some healthcare consultants because of the uncertainty about Stage 2 criteria, which remain a work in progress.
As such, 25% of respondents reported they hoped their organizations would achieve Stage 2 meaningful-use goals, but only if there is a delay in its original Oct. 1, 2012, start date.
Still, 68% of CIOs indicated they expect to qualify for EHR incentive payments in Stage 1, but not until the end of either fiscal 2012 or 2013.
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