As of Aug. 25, 143 eligible hospitals and 3,152 eligible professionals have attested to Stage 2 meaningful use, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

CMS reported the latest Stage 2 attestation numbers during a Sept. 3 Health IT Policy Committee meeting. While the numbers are an improvement compared to the 78 hospitals and 1,898 EPs that had attested as of August 1, they are still sluggish.

“The numbers are very low, particularly for Stage 2 attestation. I mean they are like 4 percent of [providers] that should be currently going for Stage 2,” HITPC member and Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst commented during the meeting.

Hospitals in particular continue to struggle with Stage 2 MU requirements. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) has estimated that approximately 50 percent of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals are scheduled to meet Stage 2 requirements this year and nearly 85 percent of EHs and CAHs will be required to meet Stage 2 requirements in 2015. Yet, hospitals that do not meet meaningful use by October 1 of this year could be subject to significant payment penalties under Medicare and lose EHR incentive payments.

On Aug. 29, the Department of Health and Human Services published a final rule to provide more flexibility to providers in how they use certified EHR technology (CEHRT) to meet MU for the 2014 reporting period. Providers can use the 2011 Edition CEHRT or a combination of 2011 and 2014 Edition CEHRT for an EHR reporting period in 2014 for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. But, providers are required to use the 2014 Edition CEHRT in 2015.

“Most hospitals who take advantage of new pathways made possible through this final rule will not be in a position to meet Stage 2 requirements beginning October 1, 2014,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell Branzell in a written statement. “This means that penalties avoided in 2014 will come in 2015, and millions of dollars will be lost due to misguided government timelines.”

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