Meaningful Use – Is It Now or Never?

Lea Chatham September 9th, 2013

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Small practice guide to meaningful use

Now or never may be too strong a statement, but the fact is that providers are running out of time to avoid the first Medicare penalty, which will start in 2015 for those who did not attest for Meaningful Use by October 1, 2014. If you plan to attest in 2013 or 2014 so you can get the incentive and avoid that penalty, you need to get started. You must report for 90 days, which means the latest you can get started is July 1, 2014.

If you haven’t begun, you aren’t alone. There are many providers who have put off attestation. According to the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS):

  • 72% of physicians use EHR, but only about 40% meet the criteria to attest for Meaningful Use.
  • Just over 65% of office-based physicians have applied or plan to apply for the EHR Incentive program.

Providers cite cost, burden of implementation, concerns about ease of use, and the potential impact on productivity as their main concerns about EHR. These issues seem to outweigh worries about the impending financial penalty from Medicare for those who don’t participate in Meaningful Use.

Perhaps this is because Meaningful Use itself seems overwhelming, an attitude that adds to the overall perception that the burden of an EHR is higher than the benefits. But EHRs are about more than just Meaningful Use—nearly 70% of physicians believe that the patient care benefits of an EHR outweigh its costs. And ultimately EHRs are what patients want. In fact, according to the Optum Institute:

  • 62% of patients want to correspond online with their primary physician about their health
  • 65% of patients want appointment reminders via email
  • 75% of patients are willing to go online to view their medical records

Research conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions indicates that two thirds of patients surveyed would actually consider switching to a physician who offers access to medical records via a secure internet connection. This is no small number.

Patient expectations are changing and healthcare providers will have to change as well. If you need to meet the rising demands of patients anyway, why not get an incentive for doing it? If you are struggling to get started, download the new Small Practice Guide to Meaningful Use for guidance and useful links.

Note: This Meaningful Use information is subject to change. For the latest updates, visit

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