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Meaningful Use of EHRs

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Optimal and Meaningful Use

The widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) in the United States is inevitable. Even practices not pursuing incentive payments will want to demonstrate "Meaningful Use" of their EHR systems. Why? EHRs will improve caregivers' decisions and patients' outcomes. Once patients experience the benefits of this technology, they will demand nothing less from their providers. Hundreds of thousands of physicians have already seen these benefits in their clinical practice.

To get the most from a certified EHR, whether providers are looking to collect incentive payments, optimize workflow or maximize their profit, there are four important priorities that a practice should strive to hit as outlined by the HITECH Act.

PRIORITY 1: Ensure adequate privacy and security for personal health information

PRIORITY 2: Improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities

PRIORITY 3: Engage patients and families in their health care

PRIORITY 4: Improve care coordination


Ensure adequate privacy and security for personal health information

To ensure privacy and security, electronic health information created or maintained by the certified EHR should be protected at all times by implementing the following appropriate technical capabilities.

(See checklist for details)

  • Document Access to Clinical Data
  • Control and Monitor Data
  • Configure Disclosure and Confidentiality Override
  • Session Timeout

Improve quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health disparities

(See checklist for details)

A certified EHR will allow patient demographics to be recorded to include preferred language, gender, race and patient date of birth while recording and charting changes in vital signs for each patient. It will also incorporate the use of Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE). The use of CPOE is essential because it allows medication orders to be submitted electronically. When ordering medication, the EHR system should be programmed to implement drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks; maintain an active medication list and active medication allergy list; and generate and transmit permissible prescriptions.

A certified EHR will also contain an up-to-date problem list of current/active diagnoses; records smoking status; implements a clinical decision support system (CDSS) rule relevant to specialty or high clinical priority and provides the ability to report clinical quality measures (CQM) to CMS. Providers looking for incentives must select 3 mandatory CQMs and 3 additional CQMs from a menu set. (See Complete List of NQF Codes)

Engage patients and families in their health care

(See checklist for details)

Providers must demonstrate the ability to provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information. Clinical summaries for all past visits should also be readily available to patients. A certified EHR will allow the provider to provide both pieces of information in a timely fashion upon request.

Improve care coordination

(See checklist for details)

Finally, the right EHR system will provide the capability of exchanging key clinical information among providers of care and patient authorized entities electronically. With this capability, not only will research be improved, but the patient can also rest assured that they will get the proper care when travelling away from home.

For more information regarding HITECH and Meaningful Use Incentives, please review our detailed information pages at:

HITECH EHR Incentives and Reimbursement
Meaningful Use Stage 1
Meaningful Use Stage 2


Last updated: May 7, 2013




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