EHR payouts climb near $25 billion

However, just a paltry eight hospitals have attested to Stage 2
By Tom Sullivan
10:19 AM
Electronic health records incentive payments to eligible hospitals and providers have continued their upward trend, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services paying out a whopping $24.4 billion to date. 
That rose steadily from June's $23.7 billion, and May's $22.9 billion.
Also on the rise are the numbers of participating Medicare eligible providers, which climbed 991 to 317,294, Medicaid EP's increased 1,249 to 157,890 and hospitals inched up by 10 to 4,737.
Most of the attention and subsequent questioning during the HIT Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday focused on the finding that just eight eligible hospitals and fewer than 1,000 have attested to Stage 2 of meaningful use.
Elisabeth Myers of CMS' office of e-health standards and services cautioned that it would be "dangerous" to draw conclusions from such a small data set, since the only EPs and EHs that were even in the running to attest to Stage 2 by now were those providers that had installed a 2014-certified EHR by Jan. 1 of this year, conducted a calendar-quarter reporting period by April 1, and attested by June 30.
Delving into the demographics shows that there aren't any major differences across various hospital and medical group size; however urban professionals are slightly overrepresented this time, said Jennifer King, chief of research at ONC's office of planning, evaluation and analysis.
In terms of organization size, King added, ONC sees a good proportion of smaller practices in the Stage 1 cohort that would be able to go to Stage 2.