HITECH, EHR and Meaningful Use

Health information technology (IT) is often recognized as a useful tool for providing efficient, high-quality care to patients. Hospitals and physicians use health IT to store health information electronically, to facilitate clinical decision-making, to streamline clinician workflows, and to monitor population health. These activities can result in more effective care, fewer medical errors, and should help to lower the long-term costs associated with today’s health care system. Implementation of the electronic health record (EHR) by health care providers is critical to meeting these objectives.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or the Recovery Act), authorized funds to Medicare and state Medicaid programs to incentivize hospitals and eligible professionals to use certified EHR technology and demonstrate meaningful use of the technology.

Meaningful Use is using certified EHR technology to

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and families in their health care
  • Improve care coordination
  • Improve population and public health
  • All the while maintaining privacy and security

The Recovery Act specifies the following 3 components of Meaningful Use:

  1. Use of certified EHR in a meaningful manner (i.e., e-prescribing)
  2. Use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care
  3. Use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality measures (CQM) and other such measures selected by the Secretary

The following links also have additional information related to this topic.

EHR Incentive Programs
This link includes information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about the incentive programs. In addition, this link includes a section on ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)’ that provides questions and answers that may be helpful.

There is also a ‘CMS EHR Incentive Programs Listserv’. Be sure to sign up for the Listserv to receive timely, authoritative information about the programs, including registration and attestation updates, and details about the payment process.

Medicaid/TennCare EHR Incentive Program
This link is produced by the TennCare Bureau and provides information to Tennessee hospitals about the Medicaid incentive program. (The Medicare incentive program is federally run by CMS; the Medicaid incentive program is run by each state.)

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)
This link provides information about the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the principal Federal entity charged with coordination of nationwide efforts to implement and use the most advanced health information technology and the electronic exchange of health information.

Data and Reports Web Page for the EHR Incentive Programs
This link provides information where you can find Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payment and registration data. The new web page will be your resource for updates regarding the programs' registration, payment, and state Medicaid launches.


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