Meaningful EHR User

I predict that “meaningful EHR user” will become the most overused term in EHR and Healthcare IT adoption over the next year.  Since the term seems to be the cornerstone of receiving a part of the $20 billion EMR stimulus package, then I thought it might be a good idea to understand how HHS might define what a “meaningful EHR user” will need to do.

Luckily Patricia King, a health care attorney in Illinois, posted the criteria for being a meaningful EHR user on NetDoc as follows.

To be a “meaningful EHR user”, the physician must satisfy three criteria:

  • The physician must use “certified EHR technology” in a meaningful manner, including electronic prescribing. The law calls for creation of a health information technology (HIT) Policy Committee, and an HIT Standards Committee. The HIT Policy Committee will focus on development of a nationwide health information infrastructure, while the HIT Standards Committee will recommend standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) is to adopt an initial set of standards, implementation specifications and certification criteria before December 31, 2009.
  • The physician must demonstrate that the certified EHR technology is connected in a manner that provides for the electronic exchange of health information to improve the quality of health care, such as promoting care coordination.
  • The physician must submit information on clinical quality measures specified by HHS.

Sound confusing enough?  Well, it’s going to be confusing until HHS is able to define what a certified EHR will look like (let’s all hope that it’s not synonymous with CCHIT certification) along with defining how the EHR should be able to exchange information.

I’ll be very interested to watch how HHS plans to implement these things.  I wonder if the frenetic pace that President Obama is basically requireing will end up being good or bad for health care IT and EHR adoption.

One thing we know for sure is that we’re in for an interesting ride.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Hopefully they come up with some new guidelines, if they go by CCHIT I have a feeling we are going to get stuck with antiquated technology. No matter what happens I hope they take advantage of Cloud Computing. Its the only scalable way any of this is going to happen IMO

  • I agree completely James. Using CCHIT would hamper EHR implementation for years. Let’s hope if HHS doesn’t kick back on using CCHIT certification, that doctors will do so.

    I’m interested to know why you think Cloud Computing is the only scalable way this is going to happen. Plus, name one EMR vendor that is truly using cloud computing. Although I guess this depends on how you define cloud computing. Do you define cloud computing as basically an SaaS EMR vendor?

  • How about Physicians Quality Report Initiative? PQRI is already out there and can be built on… Many EMR’s have been striving to meet this standard going back to 2006 so this could be one way to go. Now if PQRI would settle on a single standard that does not change week to week…

  • Seems like you pretty much answered your own question Gerald. No existing mechanism is really stable enough to use. In my book, this doesn’t bode well for government to come up with a suitable mechanism.

  • I’m a meaningful EHR user, I’m family doctor caring for 1700 patients and working long hours in my small private practice office.
    Since I introduced HIT and EHR in my practice my costs hit the roof and after two years I see more problems then before.
    I had to earn to pay the nurse before, and now I have to pay the program solution, consultants, cartriges and toners, paper etc..
    My nurse got nervous breakdown because of slow, noisy, paper eating printer.
    Patients got confused, lacking eye conntact with me, their family doctor bacause I got to type down the data to please quality and finnancial analysis supervisor whom I don’t know in person but I know he exists because my data somehow get lost, erased, modified (I’m connected to Central Electronic Data Collection Analyser via internet).
    My patient’s EHR get lost too,so I need a specialy licenced IT consultant to help me digg the EHR from the bottom of data barrel.
    All this is due to policy of lowering costs in healthcare.
    Recently I found out that my work costs less, I have to work more to earn for living, and paying the army of IT somebodies who “controll” me.

    Hail to that!!


  • Natalija,
    I really appreciate you sharing. I think that other people need to read this, so I’m going to make it a post of it’s own so that more people read it.

    I should say that it sounds like you’ve been taken a bit by an IT consultant or group of consultants that don’t really know what they’re doing. Sadly this is far too often the case and hard to avoid. I say this from the perspective of an IT consultant.

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