Understanding Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use is a term that has been widely discussed and debated since the requirements were announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on July 16, 2010. Why is Meaningful Use important and what do you need to understand for your practice? Simply put, it is the first (and likely last) time medical providers will be able to receive incentive payments from the federal government for the adoption and use of an EHR system. The EHR incentive program provides to up to $44,000 per physician for the meaningful use of an EHR system. However, the incentive funding comes with strings. For example, you will have to implement several higher level functions and in order to avoid Medicare reimbursement penalties you will need to meaningfully use your EHR system by 2015.

On August 4th, Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled The “Meaningful Use” Regulation for Electronic Health Records. Dr. Blumenthal also participated in an August 4th Webinar hosted by AmericanEHR – Meaningful Use and Its Implications For Your Practice (Slides, transcript and Q&As submitted during the Webinar are available for download).

In order to qualify for Meaningful Use incentives, care providers will need to be using an EHR system certified by a testing and certification body that has been approved by the Office of the National Coordinator. These testing organizations are known as ONC-ATCBs. Currently there are 3 ONC-ATCBs, (Certification Commission for Health Information Technology – CCHIT, the Drummond Group and InfoGard Laboratories). Additional certification bodies may yet be named. On September 22nd, the Office of the National Coordinator published 20 Q&As to clarify questions related to ATCBs and certification.

A number of articles have been posted on Meaningful Use in the AmericanEHR Partners Blog. If you would like add your comments and contribute to the discussion, simply click on the ‘Comments’ link below any posting.

In Stage 1 of Meaningful Use, physicians will have some flexibility to select requirements that are appropriate to a specific practice setting. An upcoming AmericanEHR Partners Webinar will bring together experts to assist you in selecting Meaningful Use criteria for your practice. Be sure to register for this limited attendance event.

Meaningful Use will continue to evolve as Stage 2 and Stage 3 requirements are clarified and refined. AmericanEHR will continue to monitor Meaningful Use and will publish regular updates on this important topic.




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