What is Meaningful Use?

An Overview of the EHR Incentive Programs

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Programs provide a financial incentive for providers who adopt certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) technology and use it in a meaningful way to achieve certain measures, which CMS has termed "Meaningful Use." So what does Meaningful Use really mean? According to CMS, Meaningful Use encompasses three main components, as specified by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA):

1. The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.

2. The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.

3. The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures.

The Meaningful Use criteria of the EHR Incentive Programs are measureable benchmarks of the outcomes above. In order to qualify for the incentive payments, providers must meet the Meaningful Use criteria, which are set forth in three stages, originally over the course of five years. Stage 1 began in 2011, and Stage 2 is set to begin in 2014. However, CMS recently extended Stage 2 implementation back to 2016, meaning eligible providers (EPs) who do not meet Meaningful Use requirements will be penalized with reduced Medicare reimbursements starting on January 1, 2015. Therefore, EPs who have completed at least two years of Stage 2 would begin Stage 3 in 2017. CMS plans to release proposed rulemaking for Stage 3 in the fall of 2014.

To learn more about the EHR Incentive Programs, enter your information to download your choice of our free whitepapers on Meaningful Use, Understanding the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program and Understanding the Medicare EHR Incentive Program.