• Print

EHR Incentives & Certification

How to Attain Meaningful Use

Meaningful Use Criteria

Eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals need to successfully attest to demonstrating meaningful use of certified electronic health records (EHRs) to qualify for an incentive payment through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). EPs and hospitals that are eligible for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program do not need to attest to meaningful use in their first year of participation, but must adopt, implement or upgrade to an EHR to receive an incentive payment from their State.

Summary of Meaningful Use Criteria and Objectives:
In order to meet the meaningful use criteria, EPs and hospitals must adopt certified EHR technology and use it to achieve specific objectives.

Eligible professionals and hospitals must become meaningful users of certified EHRs to qualify for incentive payments through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program administered by CMS.

The meaningful use criteria, objectives and measures will evolve in three stages over the next five years:

  1. Stage 1


    Data capture and sharing

  2. Stage 2


    Advance clinical processes

  3. Stage 3


    Improved outcomes

Stage 1:
Meaningful use criteria focus on:
Stage 2:
Meaningful use criteria focus on:
Stage 3:
Meaningful use criteria focus on:
Electronically capturing health information in a standardized format More rigorous health information exchange (HIE) Improving quality, safety, and efficiency, leading to improved health outcomes
Using that information to track key clinical conditions Increased requirements for e-prescribing and incorporating lab results Decision support for national high-priority conditions
Communicating that information for care coordination processes Electronic transmission of patient care summaries across multiple settings Patient access to self-management tools
Initiating the reporting of clinical quality measures and public health information More patient-controlled data Access to comprehensive patient data through patient-centered HIE
Using information to engage patients and their families in their care   Improving population health

Achieving meaningful use during Stage 1 requires meeting both core and menu objectives. All of the core objectives are required. EPs and hospitals may choose which objectives to meet from the meaningful use menu set.

Meaningful use criteria for eligible professionals

  1. 15 core objectives
  2. 5 out of 10 from menu set objectives
  3. 6 total clinical quality measures
    • 3 core or alternate core
    • 3 out of 38 from additional set

Meaningful use criteria for eligible hospitals/CAHs

  1. 14 core objectives
  2. 5 out of 10 from menu set objectives
  3. 15 clinical quality measures

Clinical Quality Measures

As part of meeting one of the meaningful use core measures, EPs and eligible hospitals must report on clinical quality measures in order to successfully attest to meaningful use and receive an incentive payment. For information on clinical quality measures, including how to report on them from an EHR, visit the CMS Quality Measures page.

Steps to demonstrating meaningful use

  1. Contact your local Regional Extension Center (REC)
  2. Work with your REC through the EHR adoption and implementation process
  3. Achieve and attest to meaningful use measures

Stage 2 Final Rule Now Available

The final rule for Stage 2 of the EHR Incentive Programs is now available. Learn more about the final rule.