2012: The year meaningful use took hold

By Mary Mosquera
08:04 AM

The year 2012 was the year when data showed its muscle, whether in the presidential elections or in demonstrating how deeply entrenched the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records had become.

[See also: Meaningful use Stage 2 crunch starts now.]

Health information exchange and patient engagement tools, such as the Blue Button feature to download personal health data, also made headway toward becoming a reality, paving the way for meaningful use Stage 2.

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Across the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use programs, 82 percent of hospitals, or 4,193, have registered for meaningful use, while the majority of hospitals have received payments under the health IT incentive program, according to Farzad Mostashari, MD the national health IT coordinator.

For eligible physicians and professionals, nearly 336,000, or 64 percent of the total 520,000 who would qualify, have registered and half of them have been paid.

Mostashari took to the bully pulpit to underscore the importance of information.

“We believe that there is truth in data and information, that information is power. If you know, you can do better. If you can manage information and data, you can do better. If you can learn from what you do, you can do better,” he said at the December annual meeting of Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT programs and grantees.

[See also: Why meaningful use Stage 2 is so important.]

For 2012 through November, the most up-to-date statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 162,925 Medicare and Medicaid physicians and professionals and 1,116 hospitals signed up to participate in the EHR incentive program. During 2012 through November, 61,548 physicians, professionals and hospitals received incentive payments.

Fewer providers signed up and were paid in 2012 compared with the rush of early adopters in the first full year of meaningful use reporting in 2011. However, providers may report into early 2013 to be counted in the 2012 data.

Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payments reached $9.32 billion to 176,561 physicians and hospitals through November since the program’s inception. For 2012 through November, CMS paid out $4 billion compared with $5.3 billion in 2011.

The year also brought more certainty to the Obama administration’s healthcare policies with the president’s re-election, the Supreme Court decision to uphold most of the president’s signature health reform law, and the publication of the final rule for meaningful use stage 2, which signaled to providers and health IT vendors the expectations for health information exchange and involving the patient to improve individual and population health. 

The programs that ONC established to help providers do the hard changes to attain meaningful use have also taken root. “With the regional extension centers, we leave nobody behind. We’re going to go where it’s hardest,” Mostashari said. “And Beacon communities have ripped the shroud from the belief that health care can’t change."

Transformation is happening, according to Mat Kendall, director of ONC’s Office of Provider Adoption Support (OPAS).

“What’s amazing is that all these accomplishments start coming together,” he said at the annual meeting, describing how meaningful use support efforts have expanded, including:

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