What is Meaningful Use?

CMS Meaningful Use definition

Meaningful Use is a Medicaid program that awards incentives for using certified electronic health records (EHRs) to improve patient care. To achieve Meaningful Use, providers must follow a set of criteria that serve as a roadmap for effectively using an EHR.

Meaningful Use stages

Meaningful Use is implemented in a phased approach over a series of 3 stages.

  • Stage 1

    Promotes basic EHR adoption and data gathering

  • Stage 2

    Emphasizes care coordination and exchange of patient information

  • Stage 3

    Improves healthcare outcomes

CMS recently released changes to all stages of the Meaningful Use program. Visit our blog for up-to-date information on implementing Meaningful Use »

Practice Fusion is certified

CMS requires attesting providers to use a 2014 Certified EHR. Practice Fusion EHR Version 3.6 has continuously met CMS criteria and has been certified as a 2014 Meaningful Use Complete EHR. Practice Fusion’s EHR Version 3.6 utilizes Updox Direct 2014 for direct messaging. Learn more »

Am I eligible?

If you care for Medicaid patients, you may qualify for the Meaningful Use program.

Check your eligibility »

Why start Meaningful Use?

Meaningful Use encourages you to switch from paper charts to electronic records while giving the best care to your patients. It can improve your practice's efficiency and may earn you incentives. Be sure to get started with the #1 EHR for Meaningful Use today.

What are the Meaningful Use requirements?

CMS updates to the MU requirements in 2015 simplified the reporting requirements to 10 objectives, with one or several measures per objective

Meaningful Use Stage 1 measures »

Meaningful Use Stage 2 measures »

Meaningful Use Stage 3 measures »

Meaningful Use requires you to report on a set of clinical quality measures (CQMs), which enable providers to track various aspects of patient care.

Learn more about CQMs »

What is the reporting timeline?

During your first year of meeting Meaningful Use, you have to fulfill the criteria over a 90-day reporting period. After that, you have to demonstrate the criteria for a full calendar year.

If you’re participating in the Medicaid program, you can Adopt, Implement, or Upgrade (AIU) a certified EHR or demonstrate meaningful use of one in your first year to earn incentives. You would follow the reporting timeline starting next year.

Started attesting Meaningful Use Reporting Window
  2015 2016 2017
2011 - 2015 90 days full year full year
2016 90 day full year
2017 full year

What are the incentives and penalties?

Medicare EHR Incentive Program

Please note: Starting January 1, 2017, the Medicare EHR Incentive Program was replaced by CMS's Quality Payment Program. For more information about participation in the Quality Payment Program, please visit Practice Fusion's Quality Payment Program Center.

Medicare incentive payments are equal to 75% of your annual Medicare Part B allowed charges up to a maximum yearly amount (see chart below).

Beginning in 2015, providers who are eligible for the Medicare Meaningful Use program who don’t successfully demonstrate Meaningful Use will be penalized—starting at 1% of Medicare Part B reimbursements and increasing each year to a maximum of 5%. There will be hardship exceptions for eligible providers.

Meaningful Use payment adjustments are based on achieving Meaningful Use two years before the adjustment year—so providers starting in 2013 avoid a penalty in 2015.

Medicare Incentives

Max payout
in a year
  First year of participation   No
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
2011 $18,000        
2012 $12,000 $18,000      
2013 $7,840 $11,760 $14,700    
2014 $3,920 $7,840 $11,760 $11,760  
2015 $1,960 $3,920 $7,840 $7,840 -1%
2016   $1,960 $3,920 $3,920 -2%
Total $43,720 $43,480 $38,220 $23,520 $0

Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

If you started in 2015, you can earn incentives through 2020. Please note that 2016 was the last year that Eligible professionals (EPs) could enroll for participation in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. As such, enrollment is no longer open for new participants.

If you see Medicaid patients, you can earn up to $63,750 in incentive payments over the six years that you choose to participate in the program (see chart below). If you start in 2015, you can earn incentives through 2020. Please consult your state’s agency for information about a specific payment schedule.

Providers who are eligible for Meaningful Use under the Medicaid program are not subject to payment penalties, unless the provider is also eligible under the Medicare program.

Medicaid Incentives

Max payout
in a year
  First year of participation  
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
2011 $21,250        
2012 $8,500 $21,250      
2013 $8,500 $8,500 $21,250    
2014 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $21,250  
2015 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $21,250
2016 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500
2017   $8,500 $8,500 $8,500 $8,500
2018     $8,500 $8,500 $8,500
2019       $8,500 $8,500
2020         $8,500
Total $63,750 $63,750 $63,750 $63,750 $63,750