What is Meaningful Use? (MU)

Read more about this on http://hl7engine.com/meaningful-use/

Let us try to understand Meaningful Use (MU) as easy as possible. If any in-depth standards information is needed, regarding Meaningful Use, I suggest this blog.

Imagine there exist a physician named Dr.John Doe.

Dr.John Doe is practicing medicine in some part of USA. Dr.John Doe has a clinic (only outpatient involved) where the information about recurring and critical patients were stored in large paper files.

Imagine that Dr. John Doe is consulting in his clinic for 10 years and data of his patients piling up. Day-by-day the  time required to search the recurring patient is increasing.  Last month, there was a bad water-leak on top floor of his clinic damaging at least 5 years of patient information. Oops that’s a serious problem now which puts his job in jeopardy.

Dr.John Doe & Meaningful Use

Dr.John Doe now takes a wise decision. By converting all his paper works to digitized or electronically transformed health record in a computer system. But, what’s stopping him is the cost involved in getting these things done.

Because to get this transition done Dr.John Doe has to purchase an EMR first. Implement it in his clinic and setup infrastructure for it. Train his receptionist or nurses to use it. And all these comes with a cost. But, Dr.John Doe was happy when he came to know that government provides incentives for this adoption. But Dr.John can’t just buy any EHR and leave it, instead he has to show a meaningful use with this EHR.

So, to sum up all Meaningful Use is the adoption of Certified EHR technology.

Which means Dr.John Doe cannot buy any EHR, but an EHR that is certified by appropriate authority.  The authority that certifies should check for basic eligibility criteria of the EHR. This is in fact forms the 1st stage out of the three stages of meaningful use.


Now Dr.John Doe is still not clear and expects a clear cut answer for the following questions as shown in the picture

Answer for First Question:

Answers for the first question is somewhat clear to John Doe but to provide a clear cut explanation, the physician has to do two things to qualify for the money.

  1. Get a government certified EHR
  2. Demonstrate a meaningful use with the EHR. This means to show proof to the government authority that EHR is properly implemented according to their expected criteria.

The list of criteria is provided in a list of 25 aspects provided by the depart of health & human services and it is broken into two major parts.

  1. Core Set
  2. Menu Set

Core Set: This is the list of basic requirement list of 15 aspects that all the EHR must follow. Whenever the EHR is subjected for the certification aspect, the certification bodies will test for all the core set objectives to be available in the EHR.

Menu Set: The Menu Set is the list of 10 requirements out of which the EHR’s have the liberty to choose any 5 aspect. In other not all the 10 aspects are required to pass the certification.

So basically there are a minimum of 20 aspects that are required to eligible for the incentive criteria. If Dr. John Doe is going to purchase a EHR he must make sure it is certified with all the minimum 20 aspects. Obviously now Dr.John Doe has the answer for his first question.

Answer for the Second question:

To answer the second question, it heavily depends on which incentive program the physician depends on. There are two incentive programs

  1. Medicare
  2. Medicaid.

With Medicare the physicians can get up to 75% of the incentives up to $44,000 over four years and with medicaid, on the other hand if the physician handles or sees more than 30% of medicaid patients then he can get up to $64,000 over six years.

Which means sooner the healthcare providers adopt the system the more the money they will receive as incentives. Now to proceed further for this answer, the medicare and medicaid are basically insurance policies adopted by the US government.

Medicare applies to the patient who are more than 65 years of age irrespective of the gender while medicaid applies to  the underprivileged people. These incentive scheme are brought to implementation by HITECH abbreviated as Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health act.

HITECH is one of the act passed along with the stimulus package (a.k.a) ARRA act abbreviated as American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama in 2009 as a part of meaningful use development process.


MU – Meaningful Use (Why?)

Why Meaningful Use (MU)?

Meaningful Use encourages you to switch from paper charts to electronic records while giving the best care to your patients. It improves your practice’s efficiency, and will earn you incentives. Medicare penalties for lack of participation began in 2015, so be sure to get started with the

Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Ultimately, it is hoped that the meaningful use compliance will result in:

  • Better clinical outcomes
  • Improved population health outcomes
  • Increased transparency and efficiency
  • Empowered individuals
  • More robust research data on health systems

About EHR Incentive Program:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) (Pub.L. 111–5) was enacted on February 17, 2009. Title IV of Division B of ARRA amends Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act (the Act) by establishing incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs), eligible hospitals, and critical access hospitals (CAHs), and Medicare Advantage Organizations to promote the adoption and meaningful use of interoperable health information technology (HIT) and qualified electronic health records (EHRs). These incentive payments are part of a broader effort under the HITECH Act to accelerate the adoption of HIT and utilization of qualified EHRs.

Beginning in 2011, the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs were established to encourage eligible professionals and eligible hospitals to adopt, implement, upgrade (AIU), and demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

What is MU-1,MU-2 & MU-3 ?

  1. Stage 1 set the foundation for the EHR Incentive Programs by establishing requirements for the electronic capture of clinical data, including providing patients with electronic copies of health information.
  2. Stage 2 expanded upon the Stage 1 criteria with a focus on ensuring that the meaningful use of EHRs supported the aims and priorities of the National Quality Strategy. Stage 2 criteria encouraged the use of health IT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care and the exchange of information in the most structured format possible.
  3. Stage 3 In October 2015, CMS released a final rule that specifies criteria that eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and CAHs must meet in order to participate in the EHR Incentive Programs in 2015 through 2017 (Modified Stage 2) and in Stage 3 in 2017 and beyond.

MU Regulations with respect to years:

MU certifications

MU reporting periods:

MU Reporting Period

MU EHR Medicare Incentives:

MU Medicare Incentives

MU EHR Medicaid Incentives:

MU Medicaid Incentives


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