EHR Incentives & Certification

What is Meaningful Use?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide incentive payments to eligible professionals (EPs) and hospitals who adopt, implement, upgrade, or demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Find out more about EHR implementation and the available incentive programs, meaningful use, and the certification process of EHR technology below.

Overview of Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs 1, 2

  Medicare EHR Incentive ProgramMedicaid EHR Incentive Program
Year 1 options Must demonstrate meaningful use in year 1 Adopt/Implement/Upgrade option in Year 1
Who is eligible? 3 5 types of EPs, subsection (d) hospitals, and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) 5 types of EPs, acute care hospitals, including CAHs, and children's hospitals
Important dates Last year to begin participation is 2014
Last payment is in 2016
Last year to begin participation is 2016
Last payment is in 2021
Medicare payment adjustments Begin in 2015 for EPs that are not meaningful users of EHR technology None
Meaningful use definition 4 Definition of meaningful use for Medicare is standard States can adopt their own definition (based on the Federal Medicare definition)
Who will implement? Federal government (will be an option nationally) States, on a voluntary basis
  1. 1 Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program: Meaningful Use Stage 1 Requirements Overview, 2010 [PDF - 1.5 MB]
  2. 2 Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs: Comparison Chart [PDF - 274 KB]
  3. 3 Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs: Eligibility
  4. 4 Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs: Meaningful Use

Consolidated Frequently Asked Questions



In response to feedback from stakeholders, CMS and ONC have worked together to expand the original version of the grid below to include a number of resources all in one place.

These new grids include hyperlinks to:

  • CMS and ONC FAQs that are relevant to each meaningful use objective and measure and EHR certification criterion listed in the grid;
  • Each of the CMS meaningful use specification sheets developed for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals; and
  • More information about the standards and implementation specifications adopted and referred to in each of the certification criteria.
We intend to periodically update these grids as new FAQs are published and other documentation becomes available.

EHR Incentive Programs and Meaningful Use

“Meaningful use” is using certified technology in EHR implementation to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Definition & Objectives

How to Qualify for EHR Incentive Payments Based on Meaningful Use

To attain meaningful use, eligible health care professionals and hospitals must:

  1. Register for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs
  2. Use certified EHR technology
  3. Successfully attest to meeting meaningful use

Attain Meaningful Use

EHR Certification

  • Certification ensures that the EHR technology providers choose to adopt offers the necessary technological capability, functionality, and security to help them achieve meaningful use.
  • Eligible health care providers must use certified EHR technology to qualify for incentive payments.
  • More than 500 certified Complete EHRs or EHR Modules are listed on the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL).

EHR Certification

Incentive Programs and Payment Schedule

CMS is making available up to $27 billion in EHR incentive payments, or as much as $44,000 (through Medicare) or $63,750 (through Medicaid) per eligible health care professional.

Eligible hospitals, including critical access hospitals (CAHs), can qualify for incentive payments totaling some $2 million or more.

EHR Incentive Programs