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Step 5: Achieve Meaningful Use Stage 1

Electronic Copy of Health Information


Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostic test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies) upon request.


More than 50 percent of all patients who request an electronic copy of their health information are provided it within 3 business days.

Changes as of August 2012:

In order to better align Stage 1 objectives with the new 2014 capabilities of Certified EHR Technology, CMS replaced several Stage 1 objectives for providing electronic copies of and electronic access to health information with objectives to provide patients the ability to view, download, or transmit their health information or hospital admission information online. The capability to provide patients online access to this information will be a part of Certified EHR Technology beginning in 2014, therefore the new Stage 1 objectives will be required beginning in 2014.

The following current Stage 1 objectives will be replaced beginning in 2014:

  • EPs/Hospital Stage 1 Core Objective: Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information (including diagnostics test results, problem list, medication lists, medication allergies, discharge summary, procedures) upon request.

New EP Objective: Provide patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within 4 business days of the information being available to the EP.

New EP Measure: More than 50 percent of all unique patients seen by the EP during the EHR reporting period are provided timely (within 4 business days after the information is available to the EP) online access to their health information subject to the EP's discretion to withhold certain information.

Learn more about the Patient Ability to Electronically View, Download & Transmit (VDT) Health Information objective.

Clinical Importance

Providing patients an electronic copy of their health information helps them, and their caregivers, be more engaged in their care. In addition, when a patient moves or transfers physicians they have the ability to bring that medical record with them, providing clear and accurate notes, lab results and medical images.

CMS Resources

The following resources are available to help you meet the Electronic Copy of Health Information meaningful use core measure.

Related CMS EHR Incentive Program Frequently Asked Questions

Lessons from the Field

"If the practice, REC staff and EHR vendor work as a team and keep the patients preferences at the center they can find great solutions to provide electronic access to their health information."

Shanti Wilson, Associate Director, HSAG California Health Information Partnership and Services Organization (CalHIPSO)

Patient portals offered from EHR vendors can be implemented to provide patients with online access to their health information. Implementing a patient portal requires specific training so that providers understand how to complete the patient record and define the workflow to post information within defined time frames. Front office staff should also be trained and educated on the benefits of electronic access to health information; they can also be utilized to capture patient email addresses to initiate access to the portal.

"Engaging patients electronically is a challenge in the safety-net community. By informing all patients about the patient portal, and collecting e-mail addresses as a standard part of registration/intake, a practice can meet compliance for providing electronic copies of health information."

Samuel M. Ross, Provider Resource Coordinator, Chicago Health IT Regional Extension Center

In many communities, to encourage patients to use a portal, practices create free e-mail accounts for patients. By providing patients that don't have an email address with one, patients become equipped with the tools they need to access their portal. Making patients aware of the portal, enrolling them with portal accounts, and teaching them how to use it is a great start towards encouraging more patient engagement and access to health information.

National Learning Consortium Resources

The NLC resources are examples of tools that are used in the field today, and that are recommended by “boots-on-the-ground” professionals. The NLC, in partnership with HealthIT.gov, shares this collective EHR implementation knowledge and resources throughout this site.

National Learning Consortium Resources
Resource NameDescriptionSource

Providing Patients in Ambulatory Care Settings an Electronic Copy of their Health Information


[DOCX- 1.21]

Fact sheet outlining details and considerations for providing patients with an electronic copy of their health information.

Health Information Technology Resource Center (HITRC)

Safety-Net Providers Bringing Patients Online: Lessons from Early Adopters


[PDF - 609 KB]

Report that includes patient portal case study examples and lessons from early adopters.

California Healthcare Foundation

Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information (Chapter 2: Privacy & Security and Meaningful Use)


[PDF - 1.56 MB]

Guide that addresses the electronic health record (EHR) privacy and security meaningful use requirements; this chapter is a subsection of ONC's Guide to Privacy and Security of Health Information.

Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)

FAQs about the Patient Portal (for Patients)


[DOCX - 739 KB]

A patient-facing FAQ document on patient portals provides information on several frequently asked questions from patients including what is a patient portal, why is it important, what can it be used for, and how to get access.

Health Information Technology Resource Center (HITRC)

Using Patient Portals in Ambulatory Care Settings Fact Sheet


[DOCX - 754 KB]

A fact sheet on patient portals provides background information, Meaningful Use requirements, common concerns, and tips for launching the portal.

Health Information Technology Resource Center (HITRC)

The material in these guides and tools represents the collective EHR implementation experiences and knowledge gained directly from the field of ONC’s outreach programs (REC, Beacon, State HIE) and through the Health Information Technology Research Center (HITRC) Communities of Practice (CoPs) in their performance of technical support and EHR implementation assistance to primary care providers. The information contained in these resources is not intended to serve as legal advice nor should it substitute for legal counsel. The resource list is not exhaustive, and readers are encouraged to seek additional detailed technical guidance to supplement the information contained herein.

Reference in this web site to any specific resources, tools, products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by the U.S. Government or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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