Practical Meaningful Use Details

I’ve spent a lot of time reading about and thinking about meaningful use requirements for the EMR stimulus money. I’ve posted about an easy 12 page matrix for meaningful use, a list of 25 meaningful use objectives, and some thoughts on meaningful use.

What bothers me as I’ve thought about all I’ve read about the all important meaningful use is the lack of real practical guidelines and information about how doctors are going to be able to show that they are meaningful users of an EMR to CMS. What types of measures is CMS going to use to know if a doctor is a meaningful use? In what form will doctors need to report and prove this to CMS?

I guess at its core I’m missing the real practical details of meaningful use. It’s one thing to have nice lists of meaningful use objectives. Then, people can look them over and try and guess what CMS might do with those objectives, but it’s a very different thing to have details about what will really need to be done to meet those objectives.

Am I just missing these details somewhere? I try and stay reasonably connected to what’s happening and I haven’t seen any practical details. Maybe it’s still waiting for a government committee to figure out the matrix.

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.


  • This is true that the requirements for Meaningful Use, or a governing body to assess such has yet to be established. Although this information is imminent. Feedback from such orgainizations as the AMA have been submitted and in 2011, CMS will propose objectives for physicians and hospitals to meet to be deemed meaningful EMR users. It is a wait and see scenario right now.

  • David,
    That’s really my point. We have the proposed objectives and the feedback given, but we don’t have how those objectives will be measured or reported and to whom it will be assessed. Definitely feels like a wait and see, but just wanted to make sure I hadn’t missed something.

  • What about the EMR/EHR’s? If a practice uses an EMR/EHR that is not “certified”, would this cause issues in fulfilling their meaningful use requirement?

  • If you show meaningful use with an EMR that’s not certified, then you still won’t get stimulus money. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know which EMR will actually be considered certified. We’re still in a wait and see mode.

  • John, I don’t think you are missing anything here. I work with providers, CHCs and others around Meaningful Use in a daily basis. I consider myself an “expert” on this topic but it definitely not 100% defined. What I advise my clients is to be ready for changes and “clarifications” while moving forward. First step is understanding if meeting MU in 2011 is right for them. If it is, then start doing some work now. I would not advise wait and see. If you want to get there in 2011, you need to get the work started with what you know now so that you can be better prepared. If there are 10 steps to reaching MU, I think we know enough to take the first 5 steps right now.

  • John, I think you make a great point and I agree with your concern. While David Lee points out that we may “know enough to take the first 5 steps”, I would not feel comfortable with any assumptions, only what is written in black and white. I worry that the same kind of issues/problems that have occurred with the PQRI program from CMS will also occur with the EMR initiative, particularly in regard to the potentially open-ended definition for “meaningful use”.

  • Frank,
    I’d love to learn more about what lessons you learned from the issues/problems that occurred with PQRI. I know of some, but I’d love to learn more. I think you’re right that they are similar and we can learn a lot.

  • […] John Lynn of the EMR and EHR blog recently linked to a relatively simplified 12-page matrix and a list of 25 objectives for meeting the first stage meaningful use threshold. As you can see, the objectives range from things like tracking patient medications and providing patients access to their health information to more esoteric items like the capability to provide” electronic syndromic surveillance data” to public agencies. […]

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