Next Steps towards Achieving Meaningful Use

by Joi Wilson

Community Health Center Network is dedicated to helping our health centers achieve Meaningful Use (MU).  MU is part of a federal program (created through the 2009 federal stimulus package) that offers funding to providers to help them make the switch from paper charts to electronic health records (EHR).  MU is a set of measures that providers must meet in order to demonstrate that they are meaningfully using their EHR; not just discontinuing the use of paper files, but actually using their EHR to improve care.  If providers can show that they are meaningfully using their EHRs they can receive incentive payments through Medicare or Medicaid.  Those payments help to offset the investment that the clinics have put into purchasing EHRs.

CHCN clinics are at different points in the process, from being ready to attest to MU Stage 1, to just planning the EHR implementation process.  In order to provide the health centers with the support they need for achieving MU, CHCN hired Molly Hart as the new Meaningful Use Project Manager.  Molly comes to CHCN with experience from the New York City (NYC) Department of Public Health – Regional Extension Center where she was responsible for helping all NYC providers achieve MU.  She worked with providers and their staff on not just MU but other quality improvement programs as well, including diabetes recognition and Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) applications.

Molly is prepared to be a resource of information to our clinics; her goals are to help share best practices, see where the clinics can coordinate their efforts, and help to minimize the timeframe from EHR go-lives to MU attestation.  Some MU updates she’d like to share are:

  • The Medi-Cal State Level Registry is open for attesting providers to 2012 AIU payments or Stage 1 Meaningful Use.
  • Any eligible providers who have not already received a payment under the Meaningful Use program for Adopting, Implementing or Upgrading (AIU) a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR), can still be attested.  If they saw patients at the clinic during the previous year, they should fall under the clinic group eligibility.
  • Providers who have already received AIU payment can be attested for MU stage 1 when they meet the measures at specified thresholds for a 90 day period (not crossing calendar years).
  • Providers can be attested on a rolling basis.

Molly has some words of advice for the health centers as they continue the EHR implementation process; “don’t think of MU as the end, and don’t wait for perfection in order to attest.  Get the process going and create a culture of continual improvement.  See MU as the first step towards practice transformation.”

If you have any questions about your health center achieving MU, please contact Molly Hart at