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In 2016, Meaningful Use Will Continue to Complicate Physicians’ Lives

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Medical Economics recently compiled a list of the “Top 10 challenges facing physicians in 2016.” So far, these challenges have involved ever-changing payment models, the 2016 elections and healthcare reform, chronic care management, payer consolidation, the decision to remain independent or seek employment, and the streamlining of the MOC process.

In 2016, physicians will continue to wrangle with CMS over Meaningful Use standards.

We’ll pause here as everyone reading this collectively groans.

Here’s why Medical Economics even dares to bring this up:

“Meaningful Use is going through a midlife crisis. As the government’s EHR incentive program transitions from incentives to penalties, physician participation in Meaningful Use Stage 2 continues to lag participation in Stage 1 by a wide margin. Just 57,726 eligible professionals (EPs) had attested to Stage 2 through September, according to the CMS. That was less than the 19 percent of the EPs who had attested in Stage 1.

“Meanwhile, the medical establishment has mounted a frontal assault on the recently announced Stage 3 rules. In November, a coalition of 111 medical societies led by the American Medical Association asked Congress to direct CMS to ‘refocus’ Stage 3. That move came just a month after CMS delivered its final rule on Stage 3 criteria, on changes to Stage 1 and 2 requirements, and on the latest EHR certification requirements,” the article continues. “The coalition requested that the program focus on promoting interoperability and letting EHR developers innovate. It said that the poor performance of Stage 2 showed that the ‘check box’ approach to Meaningful Use is not working.”

Michelle Holmes, MBA, of ECG Management Counseling, believes that CMS will have to actively respond to the medical societies’ concerns, especially “if the Meaningful Use Stage 2 numbers come in as low as expected.”

CMS is persistent in its optimism, however, the article reports, as it hopes “for a last-minute surge in attestations” before the Feb. 29, 2016, Stage 2 deadline, “following the changes it recently enacted in the program, including a substantial easing of the patient-engagement criteria.”

Holmes basically said that CMS shouldn’t bet the house on it, though, since CMS waited too long to present those changes to the industry and failed to engage with physicians immediately, losing their confidence and turning many against Stage 2 participation.

This is a pretty bleak picture of what awaits Meaningful Use in 2016. As physicians who are looking for jobs, what has been your experience with organizations you’ve applied to and their interest or disinterest in Meaningful Use? Where did they stand on Stage 2 attestation?

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