As April comes to a close, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that more than 93,500 healthcare providers have helped push total incentive payments over the $5 billion benchmark.
Providers have participated in financial incentive programs at about the same rate as they did last year, in part because specialists have been on board with IT integration with about the same regularity as general practice physicians.
"It's hard in a nation as large and complex as ours not to look at these strong numbers and not feel encouraged that the combination of policies, programs and, importantly, the effects of the really hard work at the state level and by hospitals and by eligible professionals have translated into a tremendous effort, will and execution on the part of the country," national health IT coordinator Farzad Mostashari told Government IT News.
Despite these accomplishments, there remains significant work to be done in order for more healthcare providers to meet meaningful use standards. A study published in Health Affairs reinforces this notion, as only 11 percent of the 4,000 physicians surveyed had systems that were advanced enough to meet up to two-thirds of meaningful use stage one benchmarks.
No matter how much physicians want to apply for financial incentives, many still have their work cut out for them as they work to improve their treatment processes. Physicians who do not intend to convert to health IT systems will soon face financial penalties for noncompliance. Such doctors could benefit from more of a sense of urgency, as reduced Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements could cause irreparable financial harm to their practices.
Healthcare providers that have not yet met meaningful use standards, regardless of how far along they are in the IT integration process, should contact a healthcare IT consulting service that can provide medical professionals with the information they need to properly adopt health IT tools.