What is Meaningful Use?

Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Ultimately, it is hoped that the meaningful use compliance will result in better clinical outcomes, improved population health outcomes, increased transparency and efficiency and more empowered individuals.

Meaningful use sets specific objectives that eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals must achieve to qualify for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs.

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. The EHR Incentive Programs are phased in three stages with increasing requirements.

  • Stage 1 of the EHR Incentive program began in 2011. It sets the basic functionalities for EHRs. The requirements are focused on providers capturing patient data and sharing that data either with the patient or with other healthcare professionals.
  • Stage 2 of the CMS EHR Incentive Program began in 2014, it uses advanced clinical processes. The requirements are focused on health information exchange between providers and promotes patient engagement by giving patients secure online access to their health information.
  • Stage 3 of the CMS EHR Incentive Program is scheduled to begin in 2017 but the rule has not been finalized.

To participate in Meaningful Use Incentive Programs, eligible professionals must be registered and have an enrollment record in the Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) in order to receive a Medicare EHR incentive payment.

Links for more information:

AAFP – Steps to Register for Meaningful Use

AAFP – PCMH Planner Outline- Meaningful Use Stage 1
AAFP – PCMH Planner Outline- Meaningful Use Stage 2

Family Practice Management – How to Survive an EHR Meaningful Use Audit