Meaningful Use Overview

Meaningful use is using certified EHR technology to

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and families in their healthcare
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security

See important information below concerning 2016 meaningful use.

The overarching goal of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is not the mere adoption of new technology, but the use of electronic health records (EHR) to systematically improve healthcare access, delivery, and quality. The HITECH Act and its associated regulations describe the application of EHR technology toward that end as "meaningful use."

Being a meaningful user indicates successful achievement of specific procedural and clinical benchmarks using certified EHR technology. Providers will attain meaningful use by progressing through three stages during their years of participation in the EHR Incentive Program and attesting to those achievements. Stage 1 criteria focused on capturing information electronically in a structured format, implementing clinical decision support tools, engaging patients in their healthcare, and reporting public health and quality measures. Stage 1 meaningful use has been effectively retired by CMS starting December 15, 2015.  Modified Stages 2 and 3 will have a greater focus on advanced clinical processes, health information exchange and improvements in quality of care and patient access. Other aspects of the HITECH Act in addition to the EHR Incentive Program, such as provisions for health information exchanges, are designed to support the meaningful use of electronic health information.

Eligible providers can earn incentive payments by attesting to meaningful use measures using the Provider Incentive Payment Program (PIPP) portal. Below are resources and information to facilitate successful attestation.

Eligible providers who have attested to adopting, implementing, or upgrading (AIU) certified EHR technology or attesting for the first time can work toward achieving Meaningful Use.


Payment Adjustments & Hardship Information

Eligible professionals may be exempt from MEDICARE payment adjustments if they can show that demonstrating meaningful use would result in a significant hardship. To be considered for an exception, an eligible professional must complete a Hardship Exception application along with proof of the hardship. If approved, the hardship exception is valid for 1 payment year only. A new application must be submitted if the hardship continues for the following payment year. In no case may a provider be granted an exception for more than 5 years. For more information visit the CMS EHR Payment Adjustments & Hardship Information website and CMS Payment Adjustments and Hardship Exceptions Tipsheet for Eligible Professionals.

2015-2017 Final Rule Provisions

CMS released both the 2015 through 2017 Modified Stage 2 measures and the Meaningful Use Stage 3 measures on October 16, 2015.  The CMS 2015 meaningful use rule changed the structure of meaningful use for 2015 through 2017.   All providers are required to attest to a single set of objectives and measures. There are now 10 required objectives for EPs based upon Stage 2 objectives with some alternate exclusions.

EHR Reporting Period

  • The EHR reporting period for all returning (MU) participants is a full calendar year.
  • For first‐time (MU) participants, the EHR reporting period is a continuous 90‐day period.

2016 Meaningful Use Changes

Beginning in 2016, all providers, including those who would otherwise be scheduled for Stage 1, must attest to the specification including the measure thresholds associated with the Modified Stage 2 measures. Many of the alternate exclusions that were available in 2015 are not applicable in 2016. EPs that were previously scheduled to be in Stage 1 in 2016 may claim an alternate exclusion for Objective 3: Computerized Provider Order Entry, measure 2 laboratory orders and/or measure 3 radiology orders. Providers scheduled to be in Stage 1 and Stage 2 in 2016 may claim an alternate exclusion for the Public Health Reporting measures 2 and 3 syndromic surveillance and specialized registry. Objective 9, Secure Electronic Messaging measure now requires a numerator and denominator.

Important 2016 Meaningful Use Information:

CMS What You Need to Know for 2016 Tipsheet

CMS EHR Incentive Program 2015 - 2017 Overview

Public Health Reporting for EPs in 2016

2016 EHR Incentive Program Webinar

Stage 1 Eligible Professionals

Stage 1 meaningful use core and menu measures were retired by CMS effective December 15, 2015.  Use the link below to find information on retired meaningful use measures.

MU Requirements for Previous Years


Stage 2 Eligible Professionals

All providers regardless of participation year in meaningful use must report the modified Stage 2 until Stage 3 meaningful use is offered or required.

CMS 2016 MU Program Requirements

Stage 3 Eligible Professionals

Stage 3 Final Rule has been published at  EHR Stage 3 and Modifications to MU 2015 to 2017 . EPs can begin reporting Stage 3 measures in 2017 and all EPs attesting to meaningful use in 2018 must report Stage 3 objectives and measures. All EPs must have 2015 Edition CEHRT to attest to Stage 3 Meaningful Use.

Stage 3 measures coming soon.