Provider Perceptions of the Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs: A Survey of Eligible Professionals Who Have and Have Not Attested to Meaningful Use
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- Weeks, D.L., Keeney, B.J., Evans, P.C. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2015) 30: 123. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-3008-5
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The HITECH Act of 2009 enabled the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide financial incentives to health care providers who demonstrate “meaningful use” (MU) of their electronic health records (EHRs). Despite stakeholder involvement in the rule-making phase, formal input about the MU program from a cross section of providers has not been reported since incentive payments began.
To examine the perspectives and experiences of a random sample of health care professionals eligible for financial incentives (eligible professionals or EPs) for demonstrating meaningful use of their EHRs. It was hypothesized that EPs actively participating in the MU program would generally view the purported benefits of MU more positively than EPs not yet participating in the incentive program.
Survey data were collected by mail from a random sample of EPs in Washington State and Idaho. Two follow-up mailings were made to non-respondents.
The sample included EPs who had registered for incentive payments or attested to MU (MU-Active) and EPs not yet participating in the incentive program (MU-Inactive).
The survey assessed perceptions of general realities and influences of MU on health care; views on the influence of MU on clinics; and personal views about MU. EP opinions were assessed with close- and open-ended items.
Close-ended responses indicated that MU-Active providers were generally more positive about the program than MU-Inactive providers. However, the majority of respondents in both groups felt that MU would not reduce care disparities or improve the accuracy of patient information. The additional workload on EPs and their staff was viewed as too great a burden on productivity relative to the level of reimbursement for achieving MU goals. The majority of open-ended responses in each group reinforced the general perception that the MU program diverted attention from treating patients by imposing greater reporting requirements.
Survey results indicate the need by CMS to step up engagement with EPs in future planning for the MU program, while also providing support for achieving MU standards.