The Meaningful Use dropout rate—what does it mean?

The year 2012 saw a huge increase in the users of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, but at the same time, the retention rate dropped dramatically from 2011. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) report, in 2011 only 11,578; and in 2012, 9,188 family physicians attested to the Meaningful Use program. It is a huge dropout of around 21 percent drop, in terms of participation.

Has your practice registered for 2013? Hospitals currently participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program must complete registration and attestation for fiscal year 2013 according to the Hospital Attestation Deadline of November 30. Will the dropout rate continue this year? Let’s have a look into the factors which led to Meaningful Use dropout rate in 2012; and how your practice can avoid this.meaningful use

It is quite surprising that providers are dropping out because the incentives will continue to decrease in the coming years. Unfortunately, if the trend continues, only a few number of providers would have actually benefitted completely from the EHR incentive program.

It seems physicians need a motivational push to remain committed to the incentive program. Government initiated a campaign through Regional Extension Centers (RECs) in the first year (2011) to get physicians on board. RECs were provided incentives but they were not given any benefit for the next year (2012) to retain the number of registered physicians. As a result, the effort put by RECs were reduced to a sudden burst in the number of family physicians registering for the EHRs, but a negative retention rate of MU participants was witnessed in the next year.

The growing trend to replace the EHR software may very well be one reason of the MU dropout ratio. Providers, who are dissatisfied by their current EHR system, turn to replacing the system and with the latest technology available they can do so, but the implementation process takes time. The provider may well need time to train their staff and get accustomed to the use of the software. This results in missing the important date of registration.

Some physicians must’ve missed the attesting time for 2012 because of the carelessness on their part or simply the fact that information providing organizations like RECs or EHR vendors were not active enough to inform providers on the revenue they will miss upon if they did not attest. It is a mistake on the part of the provider, and failure on the part of the informants.

EHR vendors will be very active this year, because of the negative report. They should make sure this time that modify their software in a way that has efficient MU attestation dates reporting capabilities. A real-time MU reporting tool can help the practice remain on MU incentive track. When providers start relying on software, they expect their software to do everything for them. So, providers should demand such functionality from their vendors to be on track.

But wait CMS has its own plans, too. Drop rate will reduce and retention rate will improve, how? It aims to charge penalties for those providers who are unable to meet MU status by the year 2015. It wants to push forward with MU Stage 3, and for that it wants as many providers as possible on board.


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