Some Hospitals Are Falling Behind In Meeting Meaningful Use Criteria And Could Be Vulnerable To Penalties In 2015
Author: Catherine M. DesRoches, Chantal Worzala, Scott Bates
With nearly $30 billion in incentives available, it is critical to know to what extent US hospitals have been able to respond to those incentives by adopting electronic health record (EHR) systems that meet Medicare’s criteria for their “meaningful use.” Medicare has provided aggregate incentive payment data, but still missing is an understanding of how these payments are distributed across hospital types and years. Our analysis of Medicare data found a substantial increase in the percentage of hospitals receiving EHR incentive payments between 2011 (17.4 percent) and 2012 (36.8 percent). However, this increase was not uniform across all hospitals, and the overall proportion of hospitals receiving a payment for meaningful use was low. Critical-access, smaller, and publicly owned or nonprofit hospitals appeared to be at particular risk for failing to meet Medicare’s meaningful-use criteria, and the overall proportion of hospitals receiving a payment for meaningful use was low. Starting in 2015, hospitals that fail to meet the criteria will be subject to financial penalties. To address the needs of institutions in danger of incurring these penalties, policy makers could implement targeted grant programs and provide additional information technology workforce support. In addition, the capacity of EHR system vendors should be carefully monitored to ensure that these institutions have access to the technology they need.