HHS announced today that the government intends to make it easier for healthcare providers to adopt electronic health records (EHRs). As part of this initiative, HHS decided to extend the deadline for meeting Stage 2 of Meaningful Use until 2014. Via HHS press release:
Under the current requirements, eligible doctors and hospitals that begin participating in the Medicare EHR (electronic health record) Incentive Programs this year would have to meet new standards for the program in 2013. If they did not participate in the program until 2012, they could wait to meet these new standards until 2014 and still be eligible for the same incentive payment. To encourage faster adoption, the Secretary announced that HHS intends to allow doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT this year, without meeting the new standards until 2014.
HHS also trumpeted the results of a CDC survey which found that more than half of U.S. physicians plan to take advantage of the EHR incentive program, and that the rate of EHR adoption doubled between 2008 and 2011, from 17% to 34% among physicians.
Of course, HHS did not comment on how low those numbers are. The fact remains that about two-thirds of U.S. physicians have not adopted electronic health records, and continue to use, in Secretary's words, the same technology as Hippocrates. The Obama administration is relying heavily on Regional Extension Centers and training efforts in order to aid healthcare enterprises in adopting EHRs.
We will update this post with links to any relevant regulations if and/or when HHS publishes them in the Federal Register.
"We Can't Wait: Obama Administration takes new steps to encourage doctors and hospitals to use health information technology to lower costs, improve quality, create jobs," HHS press release (November 30, 2011).