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.

Find out if you qualify as an eligible professional for the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

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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, the following will affect you in 2015:

  • You must use a 2014 certified EHR in order to participate in the EHR Incentive Program.  It is important to know that you can no longer use a 2011 certified EHR.
  • For the first time you demonstrate Meaningful Use under Stage 1:  You only need to report over a continuous 90-day period during the calendar year.
  • For the second year you participate under Stage 1 and all other years you participate in Stage 2: You must report over the entire calendar year.
**Note: All Medicare Eligible Professionals who do not meet the requirements for Meaningful Use by 2015 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.