Meaningful Use

Enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act propels the adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) by providing financial incentives and penalties under Medicare and Medicaid to hospitals and eligible providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.  

The legislation adopted includes three stages for meaningful use:

  • Stage 1: Capture and share data
  • Stage 2: Advanced care processes with decision support
  • Stage 3: Improve Outcomes

On July 28, 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) published the Stage 1 criteria for the meaningful use final rule that is aimed to help improve health outcomes, increase safety, and contain health care costs through increased use of certified  (EHR) technology.  Criteria for stages 2 and 3 have not yet been published.

Three main components of Meaningful Use are specified in the Meaningful Use Stage 1 Final Rule:

  • The use of a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) in a meaningful manner
  • The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information
  • The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality data and other measures

Meaningful Use Policy Priorities:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce healthcare disparities
  • Engage patients and their families
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • Ensure adequate privacy and security of personal health information

Meaningful Use also requires hospitals and eligible providers to possess a certified electronic health record (EHR) and the ability to demonstrate that it is being used to meet the requirements. Stage 1 includes 25 core plus 10 menu set objectives/measures for Eligible Providers (EPs) and 24 core and 10 menus set objectives/measures for eligible hospitals. Five menu set objectives must be achieved, but all 10 must have certified technology in place.