CMS February 2012 EHR Incentive Program report shows over $3.8B paid out

CMS released the EHR Incentive Program February 2012 Report summarizing the over $3.8B in payments to providers demonstrating meaningful use of an EHR from the inception of the program through February, 2012. From the end of 2011 (see previous blog), the total number of participants paid under the program (hospitals and professionals) doubled by the end of February, 2012 from 30,991 to just over 62,028.

Eligible Professionals (EP’s) had the largest increase in paid participants with 11.4% of the 521,600 EP’s receiving payments. Eligible Hospitals (EH’s) are close to 50% participation with 47% having received payments under the program.

However, for both EP’s and EH’s, registration in the program has not increased as much as the paid participants. EH registration was 61.4% at the end of 2011 and is up by just 6% at the end of February to 67%. EP registration was 33.2% at the end of 2011 and is now just 40% of the eligible population.

EH’s are closing in on the program target of 75% participation but the EP’s have a long way to go to not only hit the target but avoid the penalties. If the current EP registration rate of about 18,000 per month continues, EP’s will have 75% registered by the end of the year but will still be far from having 75% receiving payments for demonstrating meaningful use.

Looking at the payments for EP’s and EH’s by month, the EP participants continued to accelerate in January and February of 2012. If this continues, the number of EP’s being paid under the program will be just over half way to the targeted 75% participation by the end of 2012.

The EH’s receiving payments dropped in the first two months of 2012. The drop may be due to the different reporting periods for EH’s and EP’s. The last day for EH’s to attest to meaningful use for 2011 payments was November 30, 2011 whereas the last day for EP’s to attest to meaning ful use for 2011 payments is February 29, 2011.

Specialties receiving payments are broken out by CMS for the Medicare program only for the 31,650 physicians receiving payments thru February 2012. The “Other” category is shrinking as CMS calls out more specialties.

Since the Medicare program began payments in May 2011, this does not yet reflect the first year of the program. Also since the percentages are relative to the entire physician base, they do not reflect the degree of participation of that particular specialty.