If physicians were required today to comply with the Stage 2 requirements of the federal "meaningful use" program, instead of later this fall, relatively few would be able to do so, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey.
The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, released this month, found that only about 13 percent of office-based physicians said they both intended to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs and that their EHR was capable of supporting 14 of the meaningful-use program's 17 "core" objectives.
To comply with Stage 2, physicians will have to show that their EHRs can support all 17 core objectives and three of six "menu" objectives. For that reason, the CDC added that its 13 percent estimate may be too high.
About 56 percent of physicians who intended to participate in meaningful use said their EHRs were not capable of supporting 14 core objectives. Nineteen percent were uncertain if they would apply for the incentive program, and almost 12 percent said they were not.
Not complying with at least Stage 1 meaningful-use requirements by the end of the year will result in Medicare reimbursement cuts for those physicians, beginning in 2015.
Physicians who have already complied with Stage 1 of meaningful use for at least two years will have until October 2014 to begin complying with Stage 2. Those who didn't start Stage 1 until more recently will have later deadlines.
The CDC did say that for the seven Stage 2 meaningful-use capabilities for which statistics are available – including the ability of an EHR to record patient information and demographics, order prescriptions, send prescriptions to a pharmacy electronically, warn of drug interactions or contraindications, order lab tests, issue reminders for guideline-based interventions, and report immunization information to online registries – all saw an increase between 2010 and 2013 of the percentage of physicians able to comply.
The survey also found that more than 78 percent of office-based physicians had some form of EHR system last year, compared with a little more than 17 percent in 2003 and 51 percent in 2010.
For more information on Stage 2 meaningful use and how to comply with the new regulations, see this article in the January/February issue of Family Practice Management.
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