“MEANINGFUL USE” of an EHR Explained In 60 Seconds

“The HITECH Act set meaningful use of interoperable EHR adoption in the health care system as a critical national goal and incentivized EHR adoption.

(CDC , Jun 3, 2011. “Introduction”. Meaningful Use. CDC)


Wait a minute, …what?

Simply put, “Meaningful Use” is the Federal Government’s benchmark for Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems.  An EHR system is considered ineffective unless the data that is captured can be used in a meaningful way. The concept of meaningful use is based on 5 healthcare goals, these are to;

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


So, the government has set a number of objectives to be met by physicians using EHRs and is offering to pay yearly cash incentives for meeting those objectives, in stages, over a 5 year period.

Proving that you have met these objectives is called “attesting”. For Stage 1 attestation you have to meet, for a 90-day period in the first year of meaningful use, all of the 14 EHR Core objectives but only 5 of the 10 EHR Menu objectives. The reporting period for your second year of Stage 1 is 12 months unless that falls in 2014 and then it would only be for 3 months.

For year one of Stage 2 EHR Meaningful Use Attestation, providers must meet, for 1 of the 4 quarters of the year, 20 objectives; 17 Core EHR Objectives and 3 of 6 Menu EHR Objectives. Year two of Stage 2 the reporting period will be for 12 months.

Here are links to PDF summary lists of those objectives.

EHR Core Set Objectives – PDF file

Core Set Objectives and Measures – Stage 1

Core Set Objectives and Measures – Stage 2

EHR Menu Set Objectives – PDF file

Menu Set Objectives and Measures – Stage 1

Menu Set Objectives and Measures – Stage 2

Currently, these EHR incentives only apply to Physicians who see Medicare and/or Medicaid patients.


First Step in EHR Meaningful Use Attestation

Go to the CMS website at http://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/EHRIncentivePrograms/Getting_Started.html and start with the “Eligibility Page“. Then, if eligible, YOU MUST REGISTER to qualify for these incentives.

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