What is Meaningful Use?

It’s been bothering me that I really don’t have a simple understanding of what Meaningful Use is as related to the HITECH* Act. I did some digging and distilling, and here are the highlights.

The HITECH Act, says health care professionals and/or hospitals can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments when they adopt certified EHR** technology and use it to achieve specified objectives. Some of the specified objectives are listed as “Meaningful Use”. In simple terms Meaningful Use is a set of measurable benchmarks providers must meet after adopting EHR technology to receive incentive payments. So the incentive is to get federal dollars for adopting EMR’s, and the compensation comes when the provider or hospital can prove it.

Requirements vary between the Medicare and Medicaid.
For Medicare – Professionals and hospitals must successfully demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology every year they participate in the program in order to receive incentive payments.

For Medicaid – Professionals and hospitals can qualify for incentive payments for the adoption, implementation, upgrade or the demonstration of meaningful use in their first year of participation. However they must successfully demonstrate meaningful use for the remaining years they participate in the program in order to receive incentive payments.

Here are some of the Meaningful Use Objectives

  1. Use of EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care
  2. Use of EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures
  3. Use of EHR in a meaningful manner as in  e-prescribing

Now to find out exactly how much money a health care professional can expect, and how it’s calculated.



Medicare is a national social insurance program for Americans ages 65 and older and younger people with disabilities. Wiki
Medicaid is a United States health program for people and families with low incomes and resources. Wiki
*HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) Wiki
**EHR (Electronic Health Records) Wiki

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