Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Politico Reports: ONC Releases Meaningful Use Stage 2 Attestation Rates

Attestation rates for Stage 2 of meaningful use remained low at the end of September, according to data released ahead of today's Health IT Policy Committee meeting. The figures, contained as footnotes in an ONC data analytics update, show that 4,656 doctors and other eligible providers and 258 hospitals had attested to Stage 2. This is an increase over the end of August but still only a rounding error out of 480,000-plus eligible providers and hospitals. The low figures reflect problems that electronic health records vendors and providers have had achieving Stage 2. 

CMS relaxed the rules on reporting Stage 2 attestation earlier in the year, and provider groups have been pressing to reduce the one-year reporting period to 90 days in 2015. We have a feeling that a GOP-controlled Congress may try to do something about this.

ONC's analysis of the Sept. 30 attestation data showed disappointing levels of accomplishment in meeting some of the most important categories of Stage 2. For example, 87 percent of eligible providers who attested to Stage 2 received exclusions from showing they could electronically send summaries of care. Of those who did not receive exclusions, only 18 percent were able to send electronic summaries 80 percent of the time or more. A total of 55 percent were able to file summaries electronically 30 percent or less of the time. Scores for the "view, download or transmit" category, a measure of physicians' capacity to share data with patients, were even worse. Although 65 percent of the attesters' patients had online access to records, only 10 percent of these providers were able to get patients to download their records more than half the time.

A similarly small percentage sent patient reminders on a regular basis. In its analysis of hospitals, ONC found that only 10 percent got out electronic care summaries to patients more than half the time, and less than 15 percent were able to get more than 20 percent of their patients to view, download or transmit their records. However, as ONC pointed out, the figures represented a somewhat improved picture from analyses it did over the summer.

Many individuals are concerned about the privacy of their medical records, but that doesn't keep most of them from giving information to health care providers, according to survey results to be released at the meeting. In a survey of more than 2,000 people conducted in 2012-13 for ONC, 75 percent were "very or somewhat concerned" about the privacy of information in EHRs. But only eight percent said those concerns would cause them to withhold information from health care providers.

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