What are the three stages of meaningful use?

Meaningful use consists of a set of standards which govern how electronic health records are used by healthcare providers such as physicians, clinicians and hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaningful use is defined by a series of policy priorities for EHRs, including improved quality, safety and efficiency of care, better coordination between providers, ensured privacy and security of personal information, and the engagement of patients in their own health.

EHR users can earn various incentive payments by meeting the criteria for three stages of meaningful use over the coming years. While Stage 1 is underway and Stage 2 is currently being adopted, Stage 3 is yet to come.

Stage 1 of the meaningful use program was announced in 2010. It concentrates on EHR data and sharing. Healthcare providers were required to to focus on storing health information electronically in a standardized format that makes it easy to access for authorized providers and patients. Stage 1 also focused on tracking clinical conditions, using EHR to better coordinate care, utilizing information to begin evaluating and reporting both clinical quality and public health information, and using EHR to better involve patients in their own healthcare.

Stage 2 of meaningful use begins in 2014 and broadens the use of EHR software for health information exchange among providers. It will feature further integration for e-prescribing and lab results{,} as well as more extensive sharing of patient care summaries. Those seeking meaningful use incentives will have to continue to encourage patients to become active in their care.

Stage 3 will begin in 2016, though the Health Information Technology's Health IT Policy Committee has released recommendations for eligible providers and hospitals. Stage 3 takes the advancing clinical EHR practices of Stage 2 and perfects them. The goal is to improve the quality of health information exchanged, which will lead to improved health for patients on a large scale. For providers, access to comprehensive patient data will be efficient and easy. Even public health, from chronic disease to the flu, can be impacted and reduced with the help of EHR. The goal of Stage 3 will be a more collated information network, from lab reports to immunization information.

Blake LeGate's picture

Blake LeGate

Sales Representative

Blake is a NueMD Sales Representative for Nuesoft Technologies. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Georgia, and an MBA from Berry College. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, movies, and watching the Georgia Bulldogs.

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