The benefits of meaningfully using an electronic health record (EHR) includes:

Complete and accurate information.

With EHRs, providers have the information they need to provide the best possible care.  Providers will know more about their patients and their health history before they walk into the examination room.

Better access to information.

EHRs facilitate greater access to the information providers need to diagnose health problems earlier and improve the health outcomes of their patients. EHRs also allow information to be shared more easily among doctors' offices, hospitals, and across health systems, leading to better coordination of care.

Patient empowerment.

EHRs will help empower patients to take a more active role in their health and in the health of their families. Patients can receive electronic copies of their medical records and share their health information securely over the Internet with their families.


The Rules

The Incentive Programs have established three stages for meaningful use with each stage building on the previous one to ensure progress and advancement in the use of EHRs to improve care.

Each stage of meaningful use includes two rules:  one from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that includes the criteria that an eligible professional or hospital must meet in order to qualify for the incentive payments for that stage, and one from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT that delineates the requirements for EHR products to be certified.

So far, only the requirements for Stage 1 and Stage 2 meaningful use have been released. 

For more information on the Stages 1 and 2 Incentive Program requirements and EHR certification requirements, click here.