Meaningful Use Overview

Meaningful use is using certified EHR technology to

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and families in their healthcare
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security

The overarching goal of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is not the mere adoption of new technology, but the use of electronic health records (EHR) to systematically improve healthcare access, delivery, and quality. The HITECH Act and its associated regulations describe the application of EHR technology toward that end as "meaningful use."

Being a meaningful user indicates successful achievement of specific procedural and clinical benchmarks using certified EHR technology. Providers will attain meaningful use by progressing through three stages during their years of participation in the EHR Incentive Program and attesting to those achievements. Stage 1 criteria focus on capturing information electronically in a structured format, implementing clinical decision support tools, engaging patients in their healthcare, and reporting public health and quality measures. Stages 2 and 3 will have a greater focus on health information exchange and improvements in quality of care and patient access. Other aspects of the HITECH Act in addition to the EHR Incentive Program, such as provisions for health information exchanges, are designed to support the meaningful use of electronic health information.

Eligible providers can earn incentive payments by attesting to meaningful use measures using the Provider Incentive Payment Program (PIPP) portal. Below are resources and information to facilitate successful attestation.

Three Stages of Meaningful Use

Stage 1 Eligible Professionals

Eligible providers and who have attested to adopting, implementing, or upgrading (AIU) certified EHR technology or attesting for the first time can work toward achieving Stage 1 Meaningful Use.

Stage 2 Eligible Professionals

Eligible providers who have completed the Stage 1 reporting requirements will progress to Stage 2 Meaningful Use. Medicaid eligible professionals began recording measures associated with Stage 2 in calendar year 2014.

Stage 3 criteria have just been released by CMS as a proposed rule. The Stage 3 proposed rule’s scope is limited to the requirements and criteria for meaningful use in 2017 and beyond. CMS is pursuing additional changes to meaningful use beginning in 2015 through separate rulemaking. The CMS NPRM specifies the proposed Stage 3 requirements for eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals in the EHR Incentive Programs. CMS will accept comments on the NPRM until May 29, 2015.