Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

The Health Information Technology Policy Committee (HITPC) is a federal advisory committee that advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on federal HIT policy issues, including how to define the “meaningful use” (MU) of electronic health records (EHRs) for the purposes of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.
The HITECH portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 specifically mandated that incentives should be given to Medicare and Medicaid providers, not for EHR adoption, but for “meaningful use” of EHRs.

In July of 2010, HHS released that program’s final rule, thus defining stage 1 MU and strongly signaling that the bar for what constitutes MU would be raised in subsequent stages in order to improve advanced care processes and health outcomes.

The HITPC held six public hearings in 2010, including testimony from several dozen stakeholders, and received additional dozens of public comments via its blog. All of this input helped to inform its many hours of public deliberations regarding the future vision of MU (e.g., stage 3), as well as the interim stepping stone of stage 2 MU that will set expectations for 2013 and 2014.

Intentions and Benefits of Meaningful Use

  1. Improving quality, safety, efficiency and reducing health disparities
  2. Engage patients and families in their care
  3. Improve care coordination
  4. Improve population and public health
  5. Ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information

Complete and accurate information. With electronic health records, providers have the information they need to provide the best possible care. Providers will know more about their patients and their health history before they walk into the examination room.

Better access to information. Electronic health records facilitate greater access to the information providers need to diagnose health problems earlier and improve the health outcomes of their patients. Electronic health records also allow information to be shared more easily among doctors’ offices, hospitals and across health systems, leading to better coordination of care.
Patient empowerment. Electronic health records will help empower patients to take a more active role in their health and in the health of their families. Patients can receive electronic copies of their medical records and share their health information securely over the Internet with their families.

The Medicare EHR Incentive Program will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs that demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

  • Participation can begin as early as 2011.
  • Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 over five years under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program. There's an additional incentive for eligible professionals who provide services in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HSPA). To get the maximum incentive payment, Medicare-eligible professionals must begin participation by 2012.
  • Incentive payments for eligible hospitals and CAHs may begin as early as 2011 and are based on a number of factors, beginning with a $2 million base payment.
  • Important! For 2015 and later, Medicare-eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs that do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use will have a payment adjustment in their Medicare reimbursement.

The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology in their first year of participation and demonstrate meaningful use for up to five remaining participation years.

  • The Medicaid EHR Incentive Program is voluntarily offered by individual states and territories and may begin as early as 2011, depending on the state. Check with your state Medicaid agency for more information.
  • Eligible professionals can receive up to $63,750 over the six years that they choose to participate in the program.
  • Eligible hospital incentive payments may begin as early as 2011, depending on when the state begins its program. The last year a Medicaid-eligible hospital may begin the program is 2016. Hospital payments are based on a number of factors, beginning with a $2 million base payment.
  • There are no payment adjustments under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Courtesy of CMS.gov


Recent news:

Meaningful Use Stage 2: Final Rule (8/23/2012)

The 2014 edition S&CC final rule completes the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) second full rule-making cycle to adopt standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria for EHR technology. This final rule complements the newly released Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule, which establishes stage 2 of the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, updates stage 1 and includes other program modifications.

HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released final requirements for stage 2 that hospitals and healthcare providers must meet in order to qualify for incentives during the second stage of the program, and criteria that electronic health records must meet to achieve certification.

The requirements announced are:
•Make clear that stage 2 of the program will begin as early as 2014. No providers will be required to follow the stage 2 requirements outlined today before 2014.
•Outline the certification criteria for the certification of EHR technology, so eligible professionals and hospitals may be assured that the systems they use will work, help them meaningfully use health information technology and qualify for incentive payments.
•Modify the certification program to cut red tape and make the certification process more efficient.
•Allow current “2011 edition certified EHR technology” to be used until 2014.

The CMS final rule also provides a flexible reporting period for 2014 to give providers sufficient time to adopt or upgrade to the latest EHR technology certified for 2014.

A fact sheet on CMS’s final rule is available at http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp.

A detailed fact sheet on ONC’s standards and certification criteria final rule is available at http://healthit.hhs.gov/standardsandcertification.

Courtesy of HHS.gov