A study from Mathematical Policy Research and the American Hospital Association, published in Health Affairs, finds many critical access hospitals and other smaller hospitals are at risk to fail achieving meaningful use and face Medicare payment penalties in 2015.
While meaningful use has led to increased adoption of EHRs, much work remains to be done, according to the study. “The majority of eligible hospitals did not achieve meaningful use in the first two years of the program. Furthermore, certain types of hospitals--particularly smaller institutions--were less likely than others to have received incentive payments. These findings suggest that at least as of the conclusion of the program’s first two years, the digital divide persists.”
Critical-access and smaller hospitals in particular face three tough challenges, the study notes:
* Low patient volume complicates long-range planning and limits ability to maintain adequate cash flow,
* The hospitals may not be able to offer competitive salaries for skilled information technology professionals, and
* Smaller hospitals may have difficulty finding a suitable I.T. vendor.