'Meaningful use' of an EHR system: How to achieve it in your urology practice

February 1, 2012

This article defines meaningful use, lists the elements necessary to qualify for those elusive meaningful use incentives, and helps you decide whether and when your practice might want to engage in the process of EHR implementation.

Key Points

What is meaningful use?

Meaningful use, then, is the set of rules to be followed and the benchmarks to be met in order to claim your share of the money. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services believes, and others agree, that it is only through effective use of health information technology that any opportunity exists to improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency, as well as decrease the cost of providing health care services in the U.S. Finally, as with other CMS incentive programs (ie, the Physician Quality Reporting System and e-prescribing), the program is designed to offer a carrot first and schedule a stick eventually (penalty) to drive compliance. Penalties are scheduled to hit providers who are not meeting meaningful use starting in 2015 at 1% and rising to 5% by 2019.

Meaningful use has three stages. Stage 1 is meant to motivate physicians to use certified EHR technology for data capture and sharing information. Stage 2 is scheduled to begin in 2014 and is expected to expand on Stage 1. Stage 3 has yet to be finalized. As defined by CMS, "Meaningful use is using certified EHR technology to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities; engage patients and families in their health care; improve care coordination; and improve population and public health, all the while maintaining privacy and security."