The Medicare and Medicaid EHR (Electronic Health Record) Incentive Program gives healthcare providers financial incentives if they can demonstrate that they are "meaningfully using" their EHR systems. Now, while "meaningfully using" may sound like a potentially vague term, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have established a number of criteria and objectives for a healthcare provider to meet, in order for it to be categorized as "meaningfully using" its EHR systems.
The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs include 3 distinct stages, each of which has increasingly challenging requirements. All providers need to meet the Stage 1 requirements for a 90-day period in their first year of using EHR systems and a whole year in their second year of having such systems. They will need to meet Stage 2 requirements for 2 years.
In order to meet the Stage 1 threshold, healthcare providers needs to demonstrate that they are doing the following:
- They are meaningfully using a certified EHR system.
- They are using this system for the electronic exchange of health information and that this exchange is improving the quality of care they are delivering.
- They are using an EHR system to submit clinical quality indicators and other measures.
The national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari says that Stage 1 is about "beginning the journey" to a nationwide network of EHRs that are coordinated in such a way that they - together - improve the quality of care delivered.
The Stage 2 thresholds are somewhat more challenging and include the following:
- Healthcare providers will be required to enter medication orders electronically for at least 60 percent of patients. In Stage 1, this number is only 30 percent.
- Healthcare providers need to offer online access to health information, as well as secure messaging to 5 percent of their patients.
- In addition, the Stage 2 requirements demand that all personally identifiably health information be encrypted when it is "at rest."
While the various requirements for Stage 1 and Stage 2 meaningful use may seem complicated, working with a partner that knows how to best use EHR technologies can make them a little less daunting. Healthcare Information Services, LLC provides - with its SRS software - one of the most comprehensive EHR services available. HIS's SRS software is government certified as a complete EHR and it is built in such a way as to maximize speed and efficiency.