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CHIME: Optimism about early EHR incentives wanes

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | April 14, 2011
A third of hospital chief information officers expect to qualify for financial incentives tied to successfully demonstrating meaningful use of electronic health records, but optimism about doing so early in the program is declining, a new survey finds.

In the third quarterly survey of its members, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives found 90 percent of respondents expect to qualify for federal funding for Stage 1 of meaningful use during fiscal years 2011 to 2013, consistent with the findings of two previous surveys.

"However, most of the optimism about receiving Stage 1 payments early in the program has declined," Gretchen Tegethoff, CHIME board member and CIO at the George Washington University Hospital, said in a call with reporters.

Only 7.5 percent of respondents said they expected to qualify for funding by April 1, 2011 (the earliest date that hospitals can attest to demonstrating meaningful use). When asked the same question in November, 15 percent of respondents said they would qualify. And in the initial August 2010 survey, 28 percent said they would.

"Our survey also shows optimism varies by size and type of facility," said Tegethoff.

CIOs at hospitals with a bed count between 200 and 399 are least likely to obtain stimulus funding before Sept. 30. When it comes to the type of facility, community hospitals have the lowest expectations for qualifying for the incentives in 2011.

The most confident providers are academic medical centers -- 42 percent of CIOs at these facilities are expecting to qualify for the incentives under the HITECH portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment ACT this fiscal year.

In its surveys, CHIME has also been asking its members about their most prevalent concerns when it comes to meeting meaningful use criteria. Previous surveys found certification and CPOE woes at the top of the list.

"What we have seen emerge now is that 28 percent of the participants in the survey are now concerned about capturing and submitting quality measures," said Pam McNutt, chair of CHIME's Policy Steering Committee and senior vice president and CIO at Methodist Health System in Dallas, Texas.

The required reporting of quality measures is becoming the "sticky wicket" for many hospitals, said McNutt. In addition, 26 percent of respondents said they are still concerned with CPOE implementation.

And broader lingering worries persist. Nearly 75 percent of responding CIOs report being concerned about legislative proposals to repeal incentive funding and the EHR Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs, said McNutt.

Nearly half of respondents also said they still have questions about the entire program. "This is nearly six months after the start of the stimulus funding program," said McNutt.

Results from the survey were based on responses from 200 CHIME members or about 14 percent of the organization's membership. The survey was administered in March.

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