Meaningful Use Guidelines for EMRs program

The government’s incentive payment program for EMRs provides thousand’s of dollars for eligible healthcare professionals.  It is imperative that doctors understand the basic aspects of participating in the program.  Iron Comet is here to help you find your way to successful attestation and demonstrating Meaningful Use with your EMR.

Understanding the requirements is the first step.  Learning how the attestation process works and developing an action plan should be the first order of business.

The HITECH Act specifies three main components of meaningful use of a certified EMR:

  • Automating key clinical functions, such as ePrescribing
  • Electronically exchanging health information to improve quality of healthcare
  • Submitting clinical quality and other measures

The government states it’s rationale for meaningful use. “Providers will reap benefits beyond financial incentives like reduction in errors, availability of records and data, reminders and alerts, clinical decision support and e-Prescribing/refill automation”

They go on to require EMR users to:

  • Electronically capture health information in a coded format
  • Use that information to track key clinical conditions and communicate that information for care coordination purposes:
  • Implement clinical decision-support tools to facilitate disease and medication management: and
  • Report clinical quality measures and public health information.

They have outlined 15 required core and 5 additional self-selected criteria, to be chosen from a menu of 10.  You either meet the objectives or you don’t.  There are exemptions but they are quite narrow.

Once you have your EMR system in place, a good starting point is to transfer the CMS meaningful use criteria onto an Excel spreadsheet.  There you can sort them and check off those for which you are excluded and those with which you comply: “record (patient) demographics, for example.

Take the set of “not performing, but possible” criteria and create columns for them.  Now that you are organized you should register through Medicare or Medicaid.  You can do this online at  Medicare-eligible professionals must have a National Provider Identifier (NPI), and be enrolled in the CMS Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System(PECOS) to participate in the EMR incentive program.  CMS also requires:

  • National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) User ID and Password
  • Payee Tax ID Number (if the EP is reassigning his/her benefits).
  • Payee National Provider Identifier (NPI) (if the EP is reassigning his/her benefits).

You may register before you purchase your EMR which means that the agency will allow EPs to begin the EMR reporting period for demonstrating meaningful use even if your system is not certified.


To successfully participate in the program, participants must attest that they completed the 15 core measures, the five menu-based measures and any claimed exclusions while using a certified system to accomplish these objectives.

CMS requires EPs to report the numerator – for example, how many patients you provided with an electronic copy of their health information – and the denominator – how many patients made the request.

The incentive program – whether through Medicare or Medicaid – relies on good-faith reporting but their intention is to audit participants once they develop an appropriate strategy.

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