February 12, 2014
2014 Meaningful Use certification turned out to be a lot harder than many expected it to be. By the end of last September, only 13 percent of physicians who planned to continue their Meaningful Use reporting had an EHR that was certified for 2014. CCHIT, which has been certifying EHRs since the beginning, recently bowed out of the certification business to consult instead.
Fortunately, the situation is much less dire than it was just a few months ago. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), 70 percent of physicians who plan to demonstrate Meaningful Use this year have an EHR that has successfully re-certified for Meaningful Use. And that’s the number as of December 31, 2013—EHR vendors are still re-certifying.
In short, most physicians aren’t in trouble, at least, not as far as Meaningful Use goes. Even if their vendor hasn’t yet re-certified yet, they still have a few months to pass certification in plenty of time for physicians to complete their 90-day Meaningful Use reporting in time.
That being said, there’s still a significant chunk of physicians who won’t be able to demonstrate Meaningful Use because their EHR vendor is unable to re-certify. What are these physicians to do?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much they can do, aside from switch EHR vendors, which can be a long and complex (not to mention expensive) process. However, vendors that don’t survive this round of certification likely won’t be in business for much longer, so physicians will likely end up needing a new EHR provider anyway. If your vendor hasn’t certified yet, the next few months will be pivotal in determining your future EHR role.
Another thing physicians need to be aware of is whether the product they are currently using will be re-certified, or if they will need to upgrade to a newer version. Most vendors have rolled out or are working on new versions to accommodate 2014 certification and ICD-10, so it is vital that physicians make sure they are using the most updated version of their EHR software.
The EHR market is already consolidating, accelerated by the more stringent certification requirements. In the long run, this means good things for doctors, as only the vendors who are able to keep up with changing government regulations while producing health IT tools physicians enjoy using will survive the purge.