Meaningful use is an effort led by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). It is an incentive-based program to encourage health providers to adopt electronic records over paper records to achieve interoperability and efficiency in health data exchange.
Meaningful use is defined by the certified use of EHR technology (CEHRT) in a way that offers electronic exchange of health data between disparate systems to improve the quality of care.
The meaningful use consists of 5 main objectives per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
1. Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities.
2. Increase patient engagement.
3. Improve care coordination.
4. Expand population and public health.
5. Ensure adequate privacy and security protection for personal health information.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009, shortly named as The Recovery Act, was a stimulus package enacted by the US Congress in 2009 signed by President Obama. ARRA included many relief programs and investment in infrastructure, education, health, and renewable energy, one of which was the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. HITECH Act creates incentives for the use of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems among health providers.
Stages of Meaningful Use
Meaningful use was phased into practice and was divided into 3 stages.
Stage 1, sets the foundation of electronically capturing clinical data and giving the patient an electronic copy of their data. This stage focused on promoting adoption of EHR technologies.
Stage 2, expanded upon stage 1 criteria with a focus on advancing clinical processes and ensuring that the meaningful use of EHRs supported the aims and priorities of the National Quality Strategy. Stage 2 criteria encouraged the use of CEHRT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care.
Stage 3, CMS released a final rule that established Stage 3 in 2017 and beyond, which focused on using CEHRT to improve health outcomes. In addition, this rule modified Stage 2 to ease reporting requirements and align with other CMS programs.
Privacy & Security in Health Information Exchange
With bringing interoperability in health information exchange, concerns of security of patient’s data arises. HITECH Act of 2009 addresses these concerns, in part, through several provisions that strengthen the civil and criminal enforcement of the HIPAA rules.