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Certification Programs & Policy

Certification and EHR Incentives

Overview

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) as they adopt certified EHRs and successfully achieve Meaningful Use (MU).

For information on how to register for the CMS EHR Incentive Programs, as well as information on the attestation process and payments, visit the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website.

The Role of ONC and CMS in the EHR Incentive Programs

Per the HITECH Act, ONC was charged with creating the EHR Certification Program. CMS oversees MU and provides incentive payments to EPs and EHs who meaningfully use Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT).

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology logo.

The ONC Certification Program oversees the certification process for EHR products. ONC oversees the Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories which certify and test EHR products, as well as the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL), the authoritative, comprehensive listing of certified Complete EHRs and EHR Module(s).

Standards & Certification Criteria

The standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria adopted by the Secretary establish the minimum requirements that CEHRT must include to support the achievement of MU Stage 1 or Stage 2 by EPs and EHs under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. To access the Standards & Certification Criteria Final Rules, please visit our Helpful Links.

Certification and Meaningful Use

Certification ensures that the EHR technology providers choose to adopt offers the necessary capabilities, functionalities, and security to help them achieve MU. Solely adopting certified EHR does not qualify an EP or EH to receive incentive payments. EPs and EHs must "Meaningfully Use" the certified EHR and successfully attest to demonstrating MU to qualify for incentive payments through the EHR Incentive Programs administered by CMS.

Additional information on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs

 

An Overview of Certification vs. Meaningful Use

Eligible Professionals (EPs) and Eligible Hospitals (EHs) first adopt certified EHR. Then, EPs and EHs Meaningfully Use certified EHR and successfully attest to demonstrating MU. Once an EP or EH successfully attests, they receive incentive payments from CMS.

MU sets specific objectives that EPs and EHs must meet to qualify for CMS EHR incentive payments.

Meaningful Use Attestation

Meaningful Use is sponsored by CMS; however, certain MU attestation requirements require actions with the ONC Certification Program. An EP or EH selects a Complete EHR or a combination of EHR Module(s) to create a complete certified EHR on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) to generate a CMS EHR Certification ID for Meaningful Use attestation.

HITECH Act

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act [PDF - 258 KB] seeks to improve American health care delivery and patient care through an unprecedented investment in Health IT (HIT). The provisions of the HITECH Act are specifically designed to work together to provide the necessary assistance and technical support to providers, enable coordination and alignment within and among states, establish connectivity to the public health community in case of emergencies, and assure the workforce is properly trained and equipped to be meaningful users of certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs). These programs collaboratively build the foundation for every American to benefit from an EHR as part of a modernized, interconnected, and vastly improved system of care delivery.

Title IV, Division B of the HITECH Act establishes incentive payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs for EPs and EHs that meaningfully use Certified EHR Technology (CEHRT). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is charged with managing the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

The HITECH Act also amended several sections of the Social Security Act (SSA) and in doing so, established the availability of incentive payments to EPs and EHs to promote the adoption and Meaningful Use of CEHRT.