In 2009, the US Government introduced the Meaningful Use Program (the Program) as a part of the “Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act”, to help modernize our nation’s infrastructure, including medical records which have long been recorded by hand. This was an effort led by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). Defined as a program that encourages healthcare providers to show “meaningful use” of certified Electronics Health Record (EHR) technology, Meaningful Use encourages healthcare providers to switch from paper charts to electronic records, improving efficiency, safety, and providing an overall better care to patients.
Providers must follow a set of criteria that serves as a roadmap of effectively using and EHR. The Program was implemented over a series of three stages over a five year span.
Stage 1 (2011-2012): Promotes basic EHR adoption and data gathering.
Stage 2 (2014): Emphasizes care coordination and exchange of patient information; advancing clinical processes.
Stage 3 (2016): Improves healthcare outcomes. This stage is now set to begin as an optional requirement for physicians and hospitals in 2017 and required in 2018.
*After the initial start of the program, Stage 1 was updated and is now considered “Modified Stage 2.”
Healthcare providers that participate in the Program and meet reporting requirements are awarded with incentive payments, granted by CMS. Those payments can reach up to $44,000 for individual physicians and other eligible healthcare professionals through the Medicare Meaningful Use program, or up to $63,750 through the Medicaid Meaningful Use program.
Eligible providers not participating in the Program by the beginning of 2015 are penalized by receiving less than 100 percent of their Medicare fee schedule for their professional services.
Ultimately, complying with the Program will result in better clinical outcomes, improved population health outcomes, increased transparency and efficiency, empowered individuals, and more robust research data on health systems.
For more information on Meaningful Use, visit the CDC’s website.