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Meaningful Use Numbers… Next Time with Meaning?

by Jasmine Gee, Director of Product Marketing

Frankly, we are a bit disappointed at the lack of news in the Meaningful Use (MU) data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 6. Given an earlier proclamation that the final numbers would include a deep dive, we were hoping for more than a shallow belly flop.

In what CMS shared, there is a lack of in-depth performance information and insight into how providers have been doing on Stage 1 Meaningful Use of an electronic medical record (EMR), where they’re struggling, and seeing success. And, as we know, data without insight is not that useful. 

Regardless, here are a few highlights from CMS:  

  • 123,921 registrations for 2011 Medicare MU
  • 68,617 successful attestations (over unspecified time period)
  • 55% of registered providers successfully attested to Medicare MU
  • ~$1.5B in incentives paid across Medicare and Medicaid MU in 2011

OK. Got it.

But what about:  

  • Average measure performance by specialty?
  • Average measure performance by region of the country?
  • Average measure performance by practice size?
  • Public health measure and structured lab exclusions by region of the country?

We believe the bar for Stage 2 should be set appropriately high and that CMS could use the Stage 1 results as a powerful counter against forces that want to weaken the program and stymie ambitious national HIT goals. Going to Stage 2 without meaningful data analysis on performance with Stage 1 seems like a missed opportunity.

At athenahealth, achieving our 2011 Stage 1 attestation rate of 85% consumed a great deal of effort on our part—and hopefully not too much by the participating clients using our EMR. Our Stage 1 Year 2 Medicare MU performance is even doing a notch better – with around 87% of our Stage 1 Year 2 Medicare MU-ers meeting the measure requirements. A deep dive into the national data would help us compare our performance against a national benchmark and provide another perspective into how we can hone our program going forward. We want to make the Meaningful Use program as rewarding and successful for doctors and patients as we can.

Since CMS only skimmed the surface with this release, we plan to dive deep in future blog posts. We’re also getting ready to release performance information for the 2012 Stage 1 Year 1 MU class, which we’ll put out in early August. We invite other vendors to share their attestation rates and performance as well. In the interest of providing insights you can use, how would you like to see our data cut—by segment, length of time on athenaClinicals, specialty, etc.? Let us know by sending a comment into the blog.

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