In just under three years, over $16 billion has been paid out to eligible providers through the EHR Incentive Programs. If the previous years are any indication of future performance, many more attestations will roll in through the end of this year/beginning of next year as providers complete their 2013 reporting.
The steady stream of attestations and meaningful use incentives could see a sharp drop-off during 2014, however, and it’s not because stage 2 requirements will be more difficult. As stated in the final rule for stage 2 of meaningful use, all practices must use a 2014-edition certified EHR in order to qualify for incentive payments, whether they are on stage 1 or stage 2.
However, very few EHR vendors have re-certified under the more stringent 2014 certification requirements. As of this month, only 27 companies have achieved full 2014 ambulatory certification, representing 53 products. Another 92 companies have achieved modular 2014 certification, representing 165 products.
Compare that to over 1,000 vendors and 3,000 EHR products that are certified under the current 2011 requirements.
To account for the massive changes required on the vendor end to re-certify, ONC is only requiring EPs to attest for 90 days during 2014. Technically, that will give vendors an additional nine months to update their products and will give providers a bit of a reprieve from meaningful use reporting. However, vendors that aren’t re-certified by mid-summer may have difficulty getting their clients ready to attest in time.
The 2014 certification requirements were designed to account for factors like EHR usability, privacy and security, interoperability, and future meaningful use requirements. Because the certification requirements were so much looser for stage 1, not all currently certified meaningful use vendors will be able to re-certify in 2014. The EHR market is already going through a purge as doctors ditch their EHRs in favor of more user-friendly systems. The 2014 certification requirements will likely speed the process along until there are a manageable number of EHR vendors left that doctors are reasonably happy with.
Many vendors that haven’t re-certified yet are hard at work to pass the certification tests. ChartLogic was the first EHR vendor to certify for 2011 meaningful use and should achieve complete 2014 certification soon.