CMS reports paltry numbers for Stage 2

Cautions against drawing conclusions from early report

When CMS and ONC revealed the latest statistics on Tuesday morning, showing that 1 percent of eligible providers and 3 percent of eligible hospitals have attested to Stage 2 to date, Elisabeth Myers of CMS' Office of e-Health Standards and Services was careful to point out that the data is early -- so much so, in fact, that “it’s dangerous to apply interpretations” to those numbers.

The 1 percent figure includes EPs who have installed a 2014-certified EHR by Jan. 1 of this year, completed the reporting period ending April 1, and attested as of July 1. That's an aggressive timeline for healthcare entities so naturally the first wave was small, though few expected it to be as low as 1 and 3 percent.

CMS will start seeing second quarter attestations coming in July 1, Myers added. Whereas previous years' reporting periods could be conducted in any 90-day stretch, 2014 is the first time CMS required it to be done according to calendar quarters.

"We've never actually had a reporting period structured in this way," Myers said. "Is this the normal rate? We just don't know."

[See also: How one hospital fast-tracked MU.]

Some people watching meaningful use progress like hawks will no doubt find the Stage 2 attestation rate alarmingly small.

Paul Tang, MD"It's a valid concern," said Paul Tang, MD, vice chair of the HIT Policy Committee and chief medical and innovation officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, adding that the committee should be careful "not to over-interpret on a small number."

And Myers explained that in terms of practice size, CMS is seeing a good proportion of smaller medical groups in the Stage 1 cohort that would be able to make Stage 2.

One example of a hospital that made it

DuBois Regional Medical Center, a 214-bed hospital in Dubois, Pa., is one illustration of an organization that worked hard to prepare, by integrating the Stage 2 project into everything it did.

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