Meaningful Use and EHR Incentives

Meaningful Use: Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records (EHR) Incentives Program
Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is authorized to make incentive payments to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals demonstrating meaningful use of certified EHR technology.

The three main components of meaningful use include:

  1. The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
  2. The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality and coordination of health and health care.
  3. The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical, quality and other measures.

Simply put, "meaningful use" means providers need to show they're using certified EHR technology in specific ways that can be measured significantly in quality and in quantity. (CMS,

Timing and Eligibility for Incentives
The CMS EHR incentive program is set up in three stages over the next five years and began with Stage 1 in early 2011. Eligibility criteria and requirements vary by program. Eligible professionals may apply for either the Medicare or Medicaid program; they may switch programs once prior to calendar year 2015. Eligible hospitals may apply for both Medicare and Medicaid incentives.

  • Medicare: Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals must demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record technology each year of the program to receive incentive payments.
  • Medicaid: Eligible professionals and eligible hospitals may qualify for incentive payments if they adopt, implement or upgrade certified electronic health record technology in their first year of participation; demonstration of meaningful use is required in subsequent years of the program.

How do I sign up or register for the incentives?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is administering Medicare EHR incentives, and states are administering Medicaid EHR incentives. For both the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs registration begins at the CMS Registration and Attestation System website.

Medicare Incentives in Minnesota
Information on Medicare Incentives is available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website. Find information on eligibility, registration and resources describing timelines, participation and FAQs for both incentive programs.

Medicaid Incentives in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is administering Minnesota’s Medicaid EHR Provider Incentive Program. Find information on eligibility, timelines, registration and helpful resources.

Step-by-step guides to help you register for EHR Incentive Programs (CMS)

Subscribe to CMS EHR Incentive Programs Listserv

CMS EHR incentive payments: Data and Reports (maps and lists by state)

Where can I get more information or technical assistance?

  • REACH (Regional Extension Assistance Center for Health Information Technology) is a federally-funded project dedicated to helping providers in clinics, small hospitals, and other settings in Minnesota and North Dakota implement and effectively use electronic health records. REACH’s mission is to assure that each of their clients achieve meaningful use.
  • The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has information for providers and consumers on EHRs and Meaningful Use.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information, FAQs and trainings on their Meaningful Use website.

What about public health requirements for meaningful use?

In July 2010, CMS released the meaningful use final rule, which included specific objectives for professionals and hospitals. In Stage 1 of the incentive program (through 2012) eligible health professionals and hospitals must meet a series of 15 core objectives and at least five of 10 menu set objectives (hospitals only need to meet 14, e-prescribing does not apply to them in stage 1). Examples of core objectives include using the certified EHR technology to: record patient demographics, maintain patient diagnoses, maintain patient medication and allergy lists, and generate and transmit electronic prescriptions.

Although providers have flexibility in choosing menu set options, one of the five must be specific to public health. The public health objectives include submitting electronic data to public health agencies on immunizations, syndromic surveillance, and reportable lab results.

Fact Sheets on Requirements for Public Health
Overview of stage 1 meaningful use requirements specific to public health including immunization reporting, laboratory reporting and syndromic surveillance:

Meaningful use and reporting of immunization data to the Minnesota Immunization Information Connection (MIIC):

Meaningful use and electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) of information to the Minnesota Electronic Disease Surveillance System (MEDSS):


Updated Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 11:32AM