GAO Reports on EHR Incentive Program Participation, Recommends Comprehensive Strategy

March 12, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Based on the number of providers awarded incentive payments, participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) electronic health record (EHR) incentive programs increased substantially from the first year in 2011 to 2012, according to a March 6, 2014, report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). For hospitals, participation increased from 45% of those eligible for 2011 to 64% of those eligible for 2012, and for professionals, participation increased from 21% of those eligible for 2011 to 48% of those eligible for 2012. The report notes that, while significant increases in participation occurred, a substantial percentage of providers that participated in 2011 did not participate in 2012, a fact that CMS attributes to challenges in demonstrating meaningful use. Although meaningful use reports for 2011 and 2012 indicated that providers participating in stage 1 of the programs used their certified EHR systems more often than required, GAO explains that some stage 2 meaningful use measures may be more challenging for providers, such as measures involving the electronic exchange of information. For example, less than 15% of professionals reported on an optional stage 1 measure to provide a summary-of-care document at each care transition or referral.

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