Meaningful Use

EMR Meaningful Use Overview

Whether practicing in hospitals or clinics, doctors are starting to hear the term “Meaningful Use” a lot, usually followed by “incentive” or “certified.” Let’s start with the basics: what it is, how you qualify, and what it means for your practice.

What is Meaningful Use?

Meaningful Use is a series of federal healthcare incentives under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services EMR Incentive Programs. These programs were designed to boost EMR adoption by rewarding doctors who adopted these systems; they were also viewed as a way to aid an ailing economy by leveraging taxpayer dollars into a federal stimulus plan. The plan worked: according to some studies, over half the nation’s doctors either have an EMR or are planning to get one, and the Healthcare IT market is one of the fastest-growing fields today.
Under these programs, healthcare providers who adopt an EMR and meet a set of critera will be qualified for $44,000 per doctor over the next five years. If thirty percent or more of your patients are on Medicaid, your practice qualifies for even more money- $63,000 over five years. After 90 days of demonstrating Meaningful Use, your practice can report your achievement to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which will send you a check in the mail.

How do I qualify for Meaningful Use incentives?

In order to receive the incentives, your practice must first meet eligibility requirements (see “Am I Eligible?”) and then meet the standards of Meaningful Use Stage One. There are 15 required core objectives and a choice of 5 out of 10 a la carte menu set objectives (see “Criteria.”)

What does Meaningful Use mean for my practice?

More or less, it means you now have a financial incentive to adopt an EMR. But we don’t recommend purchasing an EMR simply to gain Meaningful Use incentives. While the incentive money is terrific, we strongly recommend that practices get an EMR to streamline office efficiency and improve patient safety, and only when practices are ready. EMRs are not particularly complicated, but any new technology takes time to get acclimated by doctors and staffs.