What is Meaningful Use and What Does It Mean to Your Practice?

On December 30, 2009, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released documents shedding light on what physicians and hospitals must do to qualify for electronic health records (EHR) incentive payments under the HITECH Act. To qualify for incentives, physicians and hospitals must be using “certified EHR technology” in a “meaningful" manner.

What does this mean to you?

Implementation of a small practice should ideally start no later than September 2010 to ensure 'Meaningful Use' can be demonstrated by 2011 - as it takes time to train, install, and begin to demonstrate and report on 'Meaningful Use'.

The definition of "Meaningful Use" includes:

  • Use EMR / EHR software at point of care
  • Prescribe electronically
  • Choose an EMR / EHR that ensures interoperability or data sharing
  • Use an EMR / EHR capable of clinical reporting

First year qualification criteria includes:

  • 90 day reporting period to prove meaningful use through required measures
  • At least one clinical decision support rule relevant to a specialty or a high clinical priority
  • Electronic claim submission to third-party payers
  • Electronically check insurance eligibility (when possible)
  • Provide patients with timely electronic access to their health information;
  • Provide patients, upon request, with an electronic copy of their discharge instructions and procedures at the time of discharge; and
  • Require the capability to exchange health information where possible in 2011, with participation in a national health information exchange by 2015

*By 2013, it is also expected that criteria will extend to include the ability to provide patients with access to their personal health records populated in real time.