Some of the pushback in the provider community on the Stage 2 program stems from reports that vendors—also beset with product upgrades to meet ICD-10 coding requirements—have been late in readying their systems for the demands of the EHR incentive-payment program.
In 2014, all providers that qualify for the program at either Stage 1 or Stage 2, must use EHRs that have been tested and certified to new functional criteria, the so-called “2014 Edition” software standards.
Hospitals are faring somewhat better than physicians in their vendor readiness for needed EHR systems upgrades to meet Stage 2 criteria, according to data presented by Jennifer King, acting director, office of economic analysis, education and modeling, at the HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
As of April, 95% of hospitals that have already attested to having previously met Stage 1 meaningful use are deemed by the ONC as “likely” they'll be able to upgrade their current products, or add new products from their current vendors to meet the 2014 Edition “base EHR,” according to a presentation from King using an ONC analysis of program data.
For physicians and other professionals who have previously attested to meaningful use, 83% are using EHRs in which it's likely they can upgrade to a 2014 Edition EHR without needing to switch vendors. Of those that have attested previously, 5% of hospitals and 17% of physicians and other eligible professionals are currently using systems that don't have a 2014 certified-base EHR product.
Presumably, those providers will either have to wait for their vendors to upgrade, test and certify their products, or switch to another vendor's system if they expect to make Stage 2.
For some medical specialists, radiologists, pathologists and anesthesiologists, 24% are using a vendor's product that hasn't been tested and certified to 2014 Edition certified-base EHR standards, King reported. Non-physician “eligible professionals” fare far worse, with 44% of podiatrists and 87% of chiropractors using systems from vendors that don't yet have a 2014 Edition certified-base EHR product.
One problem with “base EHRs” as a gauge for Stage 2 preparedness, however, is that providers cannot meet Stage 2 requirements with a base EHR alone.
To date, 72 eligible hospitals have applied for hardship exceptions from complying with meaningful use; 66 were granted the exceptions.
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