Meaningful EMR Use: Core Criteria 1-3


Meaningful EMR Use requires providers to adhere to 20 core and menu criteria in order to qualify for up to $44,000 or more in EMR incentives. Despite strong efforts to educate providers on what Meaningful Use is, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services still struggle to clearly define and effectively disseminate digestible definitions and actionable steps.

In this series of blog posts, I will address some of the major questions I have heard from providers and simplify Meaningful Use language to make it more understandable.

As a reminder, eligible providers must fulfill 20 criteria (15 core and 5 menu) as defined by the government for a period of 90 days. Upon doing so and attesting to this fact, providers will receive 75% of their allowable Medicare charges (up to $18,000 this year) as an incentive.

Core Requirement 1: CPOE for Medication Orders
Rather than create a hand-written prescription for a medication, providers must use their electronic health record to generate the order (computerized physician order entry or CPOE). This criterion only requires that the order is generated electronically, but doesn’t require that it is sent electronically. E-prescribing is the fourth core Meaningful Use Criteria.

CPOE must be done for 30% of all unique patients with at least one medication in their medication list. This only applies to patients who are seen during the provider-selected 90-day reporting period.

If you are a provider who writes fewer than 100 prescriptions during the 90-day reporting period, you are exempt from this criterion.

If you have already begun to e-prescribe, then this should be a relatively simple criterion to achieve – just make sure you are e-prescribing whenever possible. If you have not yet begun to e-prescribe and have not used CPOE previously, then you should sign up for e-prescribing immediately and begin the CPOE and e-prescribing process as soon as possible.

Core Requirement 2: Drug Interaction Checks
The provider must have drug interaction checks enabled. All this means is that you have to have drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks enabled for the entirety of the 90-day reporting period.

As a Practice Fusion user, these checks are enabled by default. Thus, by leaving these checks enabled, a provider will successfully fulfill this criterion. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Core Requirement 3: Maintain Problem List
Every provider maintains an up-to-date problem list of current and active diagnoses for his or her patients, but Meaningful Use requires the provider to do this a) electronically and b) in a structured format. This must be done for more than 80% of patients seen during the 90-day reporting period.

The structured data portion is perhaps the tricky part of this requirement. There are two ways that a provider can electronically record a diagnosis – in a free text or structured data field. The free text field would have providers write out their diagnosis in normal prose. The format of this data makes using EHR data far more complicated (for example, creating a list of patients with high blood pressure). The structured data field makes using the EHR far more simple. By designating a certain field for diagnoses (or vitals, etc.), providers can use the data much more easily.

With Practice Fusion, entering diagnoses as structured data is simple. Within the Assessment field of the SOAP note, you will find a button that says “Add Diagnosis.” By clicking on this button and searching for and assigning the appropriate diagnosis, providers are successfully fulfilling their third Meaningful Use requirement. It is important to note that providers must also indicate that there are no current diagnoses if this is the case. This feature will be available in Practice Fusion as soon as the certified version is publicly released.

Check back for further Meaningful Use Criteria updates and explanations. Also, be sure to visit the Meaningful Use Center to learn the next steps that all providers should take immediately.

Contributing Writer

Practice Fusion draws from a community of doctors, medical experts, and digital health influencers that contribute to blog posts. Read all posts from our guest writers

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  • Dartmouthman

    This blog says “With Practice Fusion, entering diagnoses as structured data is simple. Within the Assessment field of the SOAP note, you will find a button that says “Add Diagnosis…..This feature will be available in Practice Fusion as soon as the certified version is publicly released.”

    Has this feature been added, yet? I don’t find it in the assessment field of the SOAP note (as of July 27, 2011).  Thank you.

  • Dartmouthman

    Cancel the previous question. I found the feature.