Meaningful Use Overview

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) allocated $19.2 billion in incentive payments for hospitals and physicians who demonstrate “Meaningful Use” (MU) of electronic health records (EHR). The MU portion of the bill is known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). The act specifies three main components of MU:

  • 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 document clinical quality data and other measures.

What is Meaningful Use?

Simply put, Meaningful Use is a set of standards, divided into 3 stages, defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Incentive Programs. The standards recommend that providers meet established objectives using their electronic health records. Eligible providers and hospitals that successfully attest to MU earn government incentive payments.

Why Meaningful Use?

The goal of MU is to improve healthcare by encouraging widespread use of EHRs.

Benefits of using EHR include:

  • Complete patient information: Providers can see the full patient record easily, so they have health history at their fingertips. Care can be improved because information is accessed easily.
  • Better care coordination: EHRs help allow information to be shared more easily among affiliated providers and offices.
  • Patient engagement: Patients can take a more active role in their health with access to care summaries and, increasingly, patient portals.