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Comparing and Understanding the Stages of Meaningful Use

While the deadline to receive financial incentives for implementing the Meaningful Use of certified electronic health records (EHRs) has past, ECPs still need to start using EHRs to avoid reductions in reimbursement. The Meaningful Use of EHRs is being rolled out in stages, broadly defined as Stage 1 requiring the electronic storing and sharing of patient data, Stage 2 achieving advanced clinical process through the interoperability of databases, and Stage 3 resulting in improved patient outcomes.

While Stage 3 has yet to be defined, Stages 1 and 2 have specifically defined requirements that those attesting to the Meaningful Use of EHRs must report. To demonstrate Stage 1, eligible professionals must meet a total of 18 objectives composed of 13 required core objectives and five menu objectives from a list of nine. To attest to Stage 2, providers must demonstrate a total of 20 objectives composed of 17 core objectives and three menu objectives selected from a list of six.

Among the core objectives of Stage 1 are recording demographics, recording chart changes and vital signs, recording smoking status, providing patients with an electronic copy of their health information, reporting clinical quality measures to CMS, and protecting electronic health information created or maintained by the certified EHR.

Core objectives for Stage 2 that differ from those for Stage 1 include providing patients the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information being available to the EP; using clinically relevant information to identify patients who should receive reminders for preventive/follow-up care; and using secure electronic messaging to communicate with patients on relevant health information. Go to