Meaningful Use

By prioritizing the 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.

Components of Meaningful Use

The HITECH Act specifies three main components of Meaningful Use:
1.  Use of Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT) in a meaningful manner;
2.  Use of Health Information Exchange (HIE) to improve quality of care; and 
3.  Use of CEHRT to submit clinical quality and other measures.

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

CMS created the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs to support healthcare providers in the implementation of Meaningful Use. Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) can earn incentives for the adoption and Meaningful Use of CEHRT. The program requires the participants to implement Meaningful Use in a staged approach. 

MU Stage 3 Objectives

The ultimate goal of the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is that the participants reach Meaningful Use Stage 3. The Stage 3 objectives promote the electronic recording and exchange of patient data between the clinicians and with their patients, and the advanced use of the EHR capabilities. The Stage 3 objectives include:

1)   Protect Patient Health Information verified through Security Risk Analysis

2)   Electronic Prescribing

3)   Clinical Decision Support

4)   Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE)

5)   Patient Electronic Access

  • Patients can access to their electronic records & get online education about their health conditions

6)   Coordination of Care through Patient Engagement

  • Patients access their electronic records and electronically provide their health data to the providers
  • Provider and patient use secure messaging to communicate

7)   Health Information Exchange

  • Exchange information between providers and with patients
  • Clinical information reconciliation of the shared data

8)   Public Health Reporting

To learn more about the Meaningful Use stages and rules as defined under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, click here.

Future of Meaningful Use versus MACRA MIPS

Meaningful Use Stage 3 is not the final goal of the government's efforts to advance Health IT. Most of the Stage 3 objectives transfer into the Advancing Care Information (ACI) performance category of the MACRA MIPS act. Like MU, the ACI category is focused on advancing Health IT to improve the quality of care at lower cost.

EPs who participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program can continue to do so until 2021 to earn the available EHR Incentives. However, EPs who serve Medicare Part B patients should also start participating in MIPS now, in order to maximize their Medicare reimbursements. Read more here.