Of the 269,000 physicians and health care providers who successfully attested to Stage 1 of meaningful use, just 3,655 have successfully attested to Stage 2 and are ready to receive the incentive payment from Medicare. The Stage 2 deadline is Feb. 28.

For hospitals, the number is similarly weak: just 164 of 4,245 who successfully met the Stage 1 benchmarks have met those for Stage 2.

The totals – accurate as of the end of October – were reported Dec. 9 at a meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee, an advisory committee to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

The low numbers reflect “the difficulty physicians are having in meeting the meaningful use program’s strict requirements and underlines the need for more flexibility and a shorter reporting period,” said Dr. Steven Stack, president-elect of the American Medical Association in a statement.

However, Dr. Steven Waldren, director of the Alliance for eHealth Innovation at the American Academy of Family Physicians, did not see a reason to panic yet.

“I think it’s probably fair to be nervous, but I still think we have a couple of months to actually see what happens,” Dr. Waldren said in an interview.

Dr. Waldren said several issues could affect physicians’ reporting time frames, including actually meeting Stage 2 criteria, coupled with difficulties that have been documented around implementing 2014-certified electronic health records.

“I think because of the heavy lifting, the numbers are going to be down from what we would think they should be based on this regular progression through the program,” he said. “But I also think that we won’t know exactly what the magnitude of that decrease will be until after the February time frame.”

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

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