What is meaningful use?

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Meaningful use is a framework used in health information technology that provides guidelines on the use of electronic health records, as well as other technological tool used by any healthcare entity.

Healthcare organizations will need to achieve meaningful use so that they can avail of certain incentives offered by the federal government through either the Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive program or the Medicare HER Incentive Program.

Incentives for Meaningful use

Entities that deal with health care are entitled to certain incentives provided by the government if they achieve meaningful use.

According to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, those health care organizations that can reach meaningful use by year 2014 can receive incentive payments from the government. On the other hand, those who fail to achieve meaningful use by 2015 can face penalties.

An entity can only receive the maximum incentive payments if the doctors and hospitals achieve the stage 1 of meaningful use of the HER for a period of 90 days anywhere between the years 2011 or 2012.

Those entities that would like to receive incentive payments for the Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentive program will have a different set of guidelines to follow.

Entities that are eligible to get payments from the Medicaid HER program must be able to demonstrate meaningful use on or before the year 2016.

There are various agencies that are working on the implementation stage 1 of meaningful use. These include the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, some departments under the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS).

These organizations that worked on stage 1 of meaningful use are the same working group that will craft and determine the criteria for the remaining stages of meaningful use, namely stages 2 and 3.