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What is Meaningful Use? The term meaningful use was first used in the American Recovery and Revitalization Act (ARRA). The ARRA provided $20 billion to foster the implementation of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems in medical practices across the country. Most doctors (referred to as Eligible Professionals (EP)) that accepted either Medicare of Medicaid would be eligible to receive payments of up to $44,000 (for Medicare) or $64,000 (for Medicaid) for the implementation of EHRs. An EP that adopts an EHR must demonstrate meaningful use in order to receive the federal incentive payment.
Meaningful Use (MU) as a concept was defined in the regulations developed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology of the Department of Health and Human Services (ONC for short). The definition within the regulations divided MU into three stages that would be achieved over the lift time of the payments. The stage 1 MU measures largely reflect the federal governments attempt to implement national clinical quality measures in order to receive the federal payments. The MU stage 1 measures set gathering basic patient data, smoking habits, weight and system interoperability as the primary objectives.
The MU stage 1 measures are divided into two groupings, a core group of 15 measures, and a menu group of 10 measures which the EP must select 5 to report on. It is the intention of the MU measures for the EP to produce reports from their EHR to support the meaningful use measure. In order to meet a meaningful use measure, the EP must record the necessary data in the correct spots in the EHR software in order for it to be reported properly. For example, the patients demographics including race and ethnicity must be reported. Patients that will not provide that data must also be recorded in the EHR as not providing the data in order to meet the stage 1 measure. Blank is not a valid answer for meeting MU.
After adopting an EHR, EPs should work with their software vendors to generate reports on the stage 1 MU measures about a month after they start using an EHR. The initial run of reports will provide a gap analysis of deficiencies in the recording and reporting of the data. Each gap needs to be investigated to determine whether the problem is in getting or recording the data. The gaps found on each measure must be reviewed and resolved prior to starting the EPs window for reporting the achievement of MU for stage 1. With the achievement of stage 1 MU, an EP will be eligible to receive a payment of $18,000 from the federal incentive program.
For a more detailed discussion of Meaningful Use, visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services web site at:
About the Author:
Marshall Wright of DeckerWright Corporation has been providing New Jersey businesses with HARDWARE, SOFTWARE & NETWORKING technology consulting services since 1984.
Marshall Wright teaches at Brookdale Community College in the Eletronic Health Record curriculum provided by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. Marshall’s sessions focus on EHR vendor selection and clinical quality improvement including a session dissecting the 25 measures of stage one “Meaningful Use”