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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

Stage 1

Eligible providers who have attested to adopting, implementing, or upgrading (AIU) certified EHR technology will work toward achieving Stage 1 Meaningful Use in their second and third years of participation in the EHR Incentive Program.

Stage 2

Stage 2

Eligible providers who have completed the two Stage 1 reporting periods  will progress to Stage 2 Meaningful Use in their fourth and fifth years of participation in the program. The earliest Medicaid eligible professionals could begin recording measures associated with Stage 2 would be calendar year 2014, eligible hospitals fiscal year 2014.

Stage 3
Stage 3 criteria are yet to be promulgated by CMS in a proposed rule, and the release of the final rule is anticipated in 2014.

Eligible providers progress through Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3 Meaningful Use through the six potential years of program participation. These timelines for eligible professionals illustrate different pathways along which they can advance.

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If you have any questions or concerns about meaningful use after viewing these webpages, please e-mail