What is Meaningful Use?

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was designed to assure providers are properly trained and equipped to be meaningful users of Certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The HITECH Act establishes incentive payments under Medicare and Medicaid programs for eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals that meaningfully use Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT)1. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology to improve patient care.

To receive an EHR incentive payment, providers have to show that they are “meaningfully using” their EHRs by meeting thresholds for a number of objectives. CMS has established the objectives for “meaningful use” that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals must meet in order to receive an incentive payment2.

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What are the Different Stages of Meaningful Use?

The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs have been divided into three different stages. Stage 1 focuses on data capture and sharing, Stage 2 focuses on advanced clinical processes, and Stage 3 focuses on improved outcomes.

Stage 1:
Data Capture & Sharing
Electronically capturing health information in a standardized format
Using that information to track key clinical conditions
Communicating that information for care coordination processes
Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information
Using information to engage patients and their families in their care
Stage 2:
Advanced Clinical Processes
More rigorous health information exchange (HIE)
Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results
Electronic transmission of patient care summaries across multiple settings
More patient-controlled data
Stage 3:
Improved OutcomesUsername
Improving quality, safety, and efficiency, leading to improved health outcomes
Decision support for national high-priority conditions
Patient access to self-management tools
Access to comprehensive patient data through patient-centered HIE
Improving population health

Source: HealthIT.gov

What is important for Meaningful Use and how does it affect me?

No matter if you are participating in the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive program, pay attention to the following requirements for 2021:

2021 Medicare Promoting Interoperability Program Requirements

  • Maintained a minimum EHR reporting period of any consecutive 90 days for new and returning participants.
  • Maintained the Query of Prescription Drug Monitoring Program measure as optional and worth five bonus points.
  • Modified the name of the Support Electronic Referral Loops by Receiving and Incorporating Health Information measure to the Support Electronic Referral Loops by Receiving and Reconciling Health Information measure.
  • Requires all eligible hospitals and CAHs utilize 2015 Edition CEHRT.
  • Requirement that EHR technology be certified to all electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) available to report for CY 2021 reporting period.
  • Increased the number of quarters of eCQM data reported, from one self-selected quarter of data to two quarters of data.
  • Requirement to begin public report of eCQM data for eligible hospitals and CAHs as early as the fall of 2022 using CY 2021 data.

2020 Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program Requirements

  • All EPs, eligible hospitals and CAHs are required to use 2015 Edition CEHRT.
  • Meaningful Use Requirements for 2020
    • All EPs must report on a 90 day minimum EHR reporting period and meet the Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements.
    • Stage 3 requirements can be found here.
  • eCQM Requirements for 2020
    • The list of eCQMs can be found here.
    • All returning EPs must report on a minimum 90 day eCQM reporting period..
    • EPs are required to report on any six eCQMs related to their scope of practice.
    • In addition, EPs are required to report on at least one outcome measure. If no outcome measures are relevant, EPs must report on at least one high-priority measure. If there are no outcome or high priority measures relevant to an EP’s scope of practice, they may report on any six relevant measures.
  • Program Year 2021 Policies
    • In 2021 all EPs will have 90-day EHR and eCQM reporting periods to allow states to meet the statutory deadline of December 31, 2021 for all incentives to be paid.
**Note: All Medicare Eligible Professionals who do not meet the requirements for Meaningful Use by 2021 and in each subsequent year are subject to payment adjustments to their Medicare reimbursements that start at 1% per year, up to a maximum 5% annual adjustment.

Learn more about what Stage you should be attesting to by following the CMS participation timeline.