Meaningful Use

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Description

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), was signed into law on February 17, 2009, to promote EHR adoption and improve patient outcomes through the meaningful use of health information technology. The federal government allocated $19.2 billion dollars for the HITECH Act in an effort to increase the use of EHRs by physicians and hospitals. The new phrase that redefines how health information technology is used —“meaningful use”— puts a strong emphasis on the ability of providers to exchange information in order to receive funds from the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs that were created by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT), as legislatively mandated by the federal government.

  • Meaningful use must be based on functional requirements that define a certified EHR, standards that allow for information exchange, and data standards with focus on e-prescribing, care coordination, and quality measurement measures.
  • The Health Information Technology Policy Committee wants the requirements for meaningful use to be "tiered" and grow more complex each year between 2011 and 2015. After that, penalties will apply for not complying with such standards. Ideally, all providers will be held to the same standards each year.
  • The program initially started with Stage 1 with a focus on capturing clinical data and providing patient's with a copy of their health information. Stage 2 was the next stage that built on the Stage 1 foundation and focused more on patient engagement, interoperability, and patient outcomes with increased thresholds. Lastly, Stage 3 is to focus on expanding the patient quality outcomes with further increase in measure thresholds as well as patient engagement in their healthcare.
  • In 2015, CMS and ONC changed the overall program to include a single set of measures for all providers to essentially remove the Stage 1 versus Stage 2 concept therefore having all providers reporting on the same measures with some conditions and alternative measures for first time participants.

Meaningful Use Resources