What is meaningful use?

Meaningful use was established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) in 2009 to encourage healthcare centers to leverage electronic health record (EHR) software in a “meaningful” way. Qualifying facilities receive financial incentives ranging from $44,000 to over $63,000.

To receive these payments, eligible facilities must demonstrate meaningful EHR use by meeting objectives outlined by CMS, including e-prescribing, allergy checks, and computerized provider order entry (CPOE).

The original meaningful use program was divided into three stages:

  • Stage one: established requirements for electronic data recording, including the provision of electronic record copies to patients
  • Stage two: focused on advancing clinical processes and encouraged continuous quality improvement at the point of care, as well as structuring guidelines for data sharing
  • Stage three: focused on using EHRs to improve patient outcomes and eased reporting requirements for participating care centers

Why is meaningful use important in healthcare?

Meaningful use was integral in promoting early EHR adoption across the United States. In 2018, meaningful use and other EHR incentive programs were shifted to the Promoting Interoperability Program, which also aims to improve patient access to their own health information.

EHR software can play a major role in:

  • Reducing health disparities via improved care quality and safety
  • Increasing patient engagement
  • Enhancing care coordination
  • Public health improvements
  • Patient data security