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CMS EHR Meaningful Use Overview

The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide a financial incentive for the "meaningful use" of certified EHR technology to achieve health and efficiency goals. By putting into action and meaningfully using an EHR system, providers will reap benefits beyond financial incentives–such as reduction in errors, availability of records and data, reminders and alerts, clinical decision support, and e-prescribing/refill automation. Here, you will find resources with more information as well as a CMS EHR Meaningful Use Criteria Summary.

What is "Meaningful Use"?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 specifies three main components of Meaningful Use:

  • The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
  • The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.
  • The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures.
  • Simply put, "meaningful use" means providers need to show they're using certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and in quantity.

CMS EHR Meaningful Use Criteria Summary

The criteria for meaningful use will be staged in three steps over the course of the next five years.

  • Stage 1 (2011 and 2012) sets the baseline for electronic data capture and information sharing.
  • Stage 2 (expected to be implemented in 2013) and Stage 3 (expected to be implemented in 2015) will continue to expand on this baseline and be developed through future rule making.

How do I Meet Meaningful Use Requirements?

To qualify for incentive payments, meaningful use requirements must be met in the following ways:

  • Medicare EHR Incentive Program—Eligible professionals, eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs) must successfully demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record technology every year they participate in the program.
  • Medicaid EHR Incentive Program—Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals may qualify for incentive payments if they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use in their first year of participation. They must successfully demonstrate meaningful use for subsequent participation years.
  • Adopted:  Acquired and installed certified EHR technology. (For example, can show evidence of installation.)
  • Implemented: Began using certified EHR technology. (For example, provide staff training or data entry of patient demographic information into EHR.)
  • Upgraded: Expanded existing technology to meet certification requirements. (For example, upgrade to certified EHR technology or add new functionality to meet the definition of certified EHR technology.)

What are the requirements for Stage 1 of Meaningful Use (2011 and 2012)?

Meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of objectives that are specific to eligible professionals or eligible hospitals and CAHs.

  • For eligible professionals, there are a total of 25 meaningful use objectives.  To qualify for an incentive payment, 20 of these 25 objectives must be met.
    • There are 15 required core objectives.
    • The remaining 5 objectives may be chosen from the list of 10 menu set objectives.
  • For eligible hospitals and CAHs, there are a total of 24 meaningful use objectives. To qualify for an incentive payment, 19 of these 24 objectives must be met.
    • There are 14 required core objectives.
    • The remaining 5 objectives may be chosen from the list of 10 menu set objectives.

What are "Clinical Quality Measures"?

To demonstrate meaningful use successfully, eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs are required also to report clinical quality measures specific to eligible professionals or eligible hospitals and CAHs.

  • Eligible professionals must report on 6 total clinical quality measures: 3 required core measures (substituting alternate core measures where necessary) and 3 additional measures (selected from a set of 38 clinical quality measures).
  • Eligible hospitals and CAHs must report on all 15 of their clinical quality measures.

For more information on Clinical Measures, please visit the CMS.Gov Website.

What Can I Learn from the Meaningful Use Specification Sheets?

The Meaningful Use Objectives specification sheets for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs bring together critical information on each objective to help eligible professionals and eligible hospitals/critical access hospitals understand what they need to do to demonstrate meaningful use successfully. For eligible professionals, there are a total of 25 meaningful use objectives. To qualify for an incentive payment, 20 of these 25 objectives must be met, including:

  • 15 required core objectives
  • 5 menu set objectives that may be chosen from a list of 10

For eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs), there are a total of 24 meaningful use objectives. To qualify for an incentive payment, 19 of these 24 objectives must be met, including:

  • 14 required core objectives
  • 5 menu set objectives that may be chosen from a list of 10

Each specification sheet covers a single eligible professional core or menu set objective in detail, including information on:

  • Meeting the measure for each objective
  • How to calculate the numerator and denominator for each objective
  • How to qualify for an exclusion to an objective
  • In-depth definitions of terms that clarify objective requirements
  • Requirements for attesting to each measure

For more information on Meaningful Use, please visit CMS.gov website for the most up to date information including downloads and other vital information.

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