3 Stages of Meaningful Use

Career, Health IT

Now that we know from where did Meaningful Use originate, let’s get little deeper on what it’s stages.

Meaningful Use (MU) program for Medicare has been divided into three stages. Each stage builds on the previous one, to expand electronic health records (EHR) usage to an increasingly larger patient population with a wider range of healthcare processes.

  • MU Stage 1 is all about data capturing and sharing,
  • MU Stage 2 focuses on advanced clinical processes and lastly
  • MU Stage 3 aims at improving outcomes.

EHR users can earn various incentive payments by meeting the criteria for the three stages of MU over coming years. While stage 1 and stage 2 is underway, stage 3 is currently being adopted.


Stage 1 was announced in 2010. It concentrates on EHR data capturing and sharing. Healthcare providers were required to focus on storing health information electronically in a standardized format that makes it easy to access for authorized providers and patients. It focused on tracking clinical conditions, using EHR to better coordinate care, utilizing information to be able to evaluate and report clinical quality and public health information, and using EHR to better involve patients in their own healthcare.

Stage 2 began in 2014 and broadens the use of EHR software for health information exchange among providers. It features further integration for e-prescribing and lab results as well as more extensive sharing of patients care summaries. Patients were encouraged to become active in their care.

Stage 3 started in 2016, was optional till 2017 and is mandatory for all participants in 2018. It takes the advancing clinical EHR practices of Stage 2 and perfects them. The goal is to improve the quality of health information exchange, which will lead to improved health for patients on a large-scale. The access to comprehensive patient data will be efficient and easy for providers. The goal of Stage 3 will be a more collated information network, from lab reports to immunization information.




Ref: https://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/meaningful-use-definition-objectives


Career, Health IT

If someone in your circle is working in a health sector or health IT sector, I am sure you must have heard about the MU (Meaningful Use) standards. MU program was introduced by U.S. government as a part of 2009 HITECH Act. Let’s get deeper knowledge around HITECH Act and then we will come back to Meaningful Use (MU) in my next post.

What is HITECH Act?

It’s the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act enacted is a part of former President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package and meant to stimulate industry-wide EHR (Electronic Health Record) adoption.


1967 is the time when computer use to take an entire room. Medical researchers began to record their findings electronically, but scalability and cost limited it spread beyond the halls academia. Around 1986 the race was on to put a computer on every desktop. In the 1990s, laptop became a business necessity. Doctors went online to do research, email, etc except record and exchange clinical information. Now the technology is sophisticated enough to digitize and index the medical records of every single person in the company, still, only 40% of doctors have adopted EHR and only 20% are using it. President Obama realized to stimulate EHR adoption, the industry will be going to need a little push, which brings us to HITECH ACT. 

Getting back to HITECH ACT:

On 18th Feb 2009, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus Package), was signed by President Obama into law. It contained new legislation also known as Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). It uses financial incentives to encourage the physician to adopt certified EHRs.


Through increased use of EHR, the government plans to achieve the goal of a national health information network. This will result in :

  • Improved quality of care
  • Patient safety
  • Lower costs

Starting in 2011 with more than $17 billion distributed in the form of incentives, their aim is to encourage 90% of all doctors to become meaning users of EHR by 2019.

How does a physician qualify for this incentives??

  1. Purchase and use government certified EHR
  2. Demonstrate “meaningful uses” i.e. prove to the govt that EHR is properly implemented according to their criteria.

How much of that $34 billion is available for a physician? 

It depends on which incentives program is the physician eligible for. HITECH act provides two separate programs: Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare: A physician can earn up to 75% of his/her allowable charges up to a maximum $44000 over 5 years.

Medicaid: Up to $63,750 is available to a physician, to see more than 30% of Medicaid patients. (For pediatrician, that number is reduced to 20%)

Note: A physician will be penalised if there will be a delay or if the physician decides not to implement an EHR. He/She not only lose incentives but the govt will also be decreasing his/her reimbursement rate.

Ref: HITECH Act Enforcement Interim Final Rule