Meaningful Use

As part of the ARRA , also known as the stimulus bill, physicians will begin to receive financial incentives based on their use of EHRs (Electronic Health Records), but only if they can demonstrate themselves to be "meaningful users" of them. To qualify as a meaningful user, the physician must demonstrate use of a qualified EHR in a meaningful manner. The financial incentives will be awarded in 2011 through 2015, increasing year by year. Incentives will be paid in the form of increased medicare payouts to physicians. The funds are meant to lighten the financial blow to those who invest in EHRs early.
Incentive Diagram

The HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act allows the Department of Health and Human Services to develop programs to improve health care quality through the use of health IT. This act was the first step towards bringing health IT to doctors offices and hospitals everywhere, and brought about meaningful use. The table found above, shows the amount of incentive dollars physicians will be awarded based on the year they adopt a certified EHR and meaningfully use EHRs. The earlier the physician adopts the EHR, the more money they will receive and the opposite goes for the late adopters. Those who chose not to adopt by 2014 will receive no stimulus money.

The definition of Meaningful Use has not been settled. So far there are only five criteria set for 2011.
  1. Improving quality, safety and efficiency and reducing healthcare disparities;
  2. Engaging patients and families;
  3. Coordination care;
  4. Raising the health status of the population and
  5. Maintaining privacy and security of systems and data.

Objectives for each of these criteria can be found here .


  • To induce adoption of EHRs by all physicians.
  • Increase efficiency and safety in all of healthcare.
  • Increase the health of the country.
  • Increase privacy and security of health records.

  • Complete and accurate information
  • Better access to information
  • Patient empowerment

Since 2011, a plan has been placed to achieve results over the following five years. The stages include:

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We are currently still in the process of completing stage 1, and are on the way towards stage 2. Rule-making and updated certification criteria have been announced with the progression into stage 2.

Web Resources/References

Geek Doctor (Blog)
EMR and HIPPA (Open Forum)
Meaningful Use Workgroup (Government Group)

Related Terminology:



Meaningful Use Criteria

meaningful use objectives