Meaningful Use

By prioritizing effective use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) to improve the quality and efficiency of health care, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 made it clear that the adoption of EHRs was not an end unto itself. The Act established Meaningful Use (MU) of interoperable EHRs with the ability of electronic Health Information Exchange (HIE) as a critical national goal. Accordingly, CMS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, manages the rules and definitions for Meaningful Use and enables and enforces compliance.

MU compliance requires healthcare providers to use Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) to improve care quality, safety and efficiency in ways that can be evaluated using qualitative and quantitative measures. Providers need to demonstrate that they use CEHRT to improve care coordination, engage patients and relatives electronically, maintain the privacy and security of health information, reduce care disparities, and to address public health issues and other priority healthcare goals.

Components of Meaningful Use

The HITECH Act specifies three main components of MU:
1.  Use of a CEHRT in a meaningful manner;
2.  Use of HIE to improve quality of care; and 
3.  Use of CEHRT to submit clinical quality and other measures.

Stages of Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use was originally divided into three stages. The stages were designed to focus on:
Stage 1: Data capture and sharing
Stage 2: Advance clinical processes
Stage 3: Improved outcomes

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

Meaningful Use Measures

Each stage consists of specific measurable objectives, as well as a set of Clinical Quality Measures that generally align with clinical quality objectives used in other CMS programs, such as the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS).

On Oct 16, 2015, CMS published a Final Rule specifying the MU requirements Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs in 2015 and beyond. The rule’s provisions encompass 2015-2017 requirements as well as Stage 3 Meaningful Use.

For Program Year 2015, all providers must attest to a single set of objectives and measures, known as Modified Stage 2, which replaces the old core and menu measure structure. Accommodations (alternate measure specifications and exclusions) are available for providers who were scheduled to attest to MU Stage 1 in 2015.

For more information about requirements for:
• Program Year 2015, click here;
• Program Year 2016, click here
• Program Year 2017, click here;
• Stage 3 Meaningful Use, click here.

Some Meaningful Use measures particularly promote the advancement of electronic Patient Engagement as part of the efforts to advance the quality, transparency and efficiency of healthcare through Health IT.

Meaningful Use also measures compliance with the stringent Privacy and Security requirements for handling electronic Protected Health Information (PHI) as mandated by the HIPAA act and its associated rules.

Public Health Measures are incorporated into Meaningful Use to measure compliance with public health reporting, which can be used to study trends and patterns in the health of populations, in order to improve public health.

Incentive and Enforcement 

Providers who fail to demonstrate Meaningful Use will be subject to payment and penalties applied to their Medicare Part B reimbursements. However, certain categories of providers are eligible to apply for incentives via the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Meaningful Use versus PQRS

Although there are similarities between Meaningful Use and PQRS measures, professionals eligible for PQRS have to both report PQRS and attest to Meaningful Use to avoid penalties. PQRS is focused on healthcare quality and does not require an EHR system, but having an EHR will assist in collecting the measure data. On the other hand, Meaningful Use specifically requires an EHR system.

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

Eligible professionals and hospitals can earn incentives for the implementation and Meaningful Use of Certified EHR systems. Read more

eHealth Services Center

MeHI provides services via our eHealth Services Center to advise and assist providers in the adoption and Meaningful Use of EHR systems. Our services are available to all healthcare professionals and organizations, regardless of whether they participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Meaningful Use Toolkits

Additional guidance can be found in the Meaningful Use Toolkits in the Education section. The toolkits contain guidance for providers to implement Meaningful Use and participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

This Meaningful Use Toolkit contains resources for program registration, Meaningful Use attestation, and other relevant program support topics for Eligible Professionals.

This Meaningful Use Toolkit contains resources for program registration, Meaningful Use attestation, and other relevant program support topics for Eligible Hospitals.