Health Information Technology (HIT) Resource Center

Health Resources

PractEssentials: Your Consulting Source for Everything HIT…

Let PractEssentials consultants help you with your technology concerns. Contact Terri Gonzalez at with any questions you may have or call 919-833-3836. View all of the consulting services available through PractEssentials.

HIT Overview

Health information technology or HIT encompasses a wide range of electronic software, hardware and data systems that are designed to increase efficiency, quality of care, and information sharing.

For a complete list on the various types of health IT available, visit the AMA’s HIT Basics page. The North Carolina Medical Society Foundation (NCMSF) provides consulting services to specialty practices seeking assistance with Health Information Technology decision making and implementation. For more information on these services or assistance with meeting Meaningful Use requirements, please contact Terri Gonzalez,, (919) 833-3836 ext. 123.  

Why should practices utilize health information technology such as electronic health records (EHR)?

  1. Improved quality of care – EHR improves the quality of patient care by providing patient care reports that allow for quality patient follow-up;
  2. Greater reimbursement – EHR can improve clinical documentation to support higher levels of coding that increases reimbursement;
  3. Increased efficiency – EHR can improve the practice’s workflow;
  4. Easier access to information – by transitioning from paper-based processes to more efficient electronic processes, physicians and staff have easier access to information regarding their patients;
  5. Financial incentives – With the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, instituting electronic health records within practices can provide financial incentives to reward practices that achieve meaningful use of electronic health technology.

Incentive Programs & “Meaningful Use”

Source: CMS – The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide a financial incentive for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology to achieve health and efficiency goals. By putting into action and meaningfully using an EHR system, providers will reap benefits beyond financial incentives–such as reduction in errors, availability of records and data, reminders and alerts, clinical decision support, and e-prescribing/refill automation. Physicians and hospitals that fail to demonstrate meaningful use by 2015 face reimbursement reductions.


  1. What is “Meaningful Use”? The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 specifies three main components of Meaningful Use:
    • The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
    • The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.
    • The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality and other measures.

    For more information on meaningful use click here.

  2. How and why should I implement Electronic Health Records for my practice? CMS has answers for you here.
  3. Now that I have an EHR, how do I meet the Meaningful Use criteria? If you are a member of the NCMS you can receive assistance from the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation – call us at 919-833-3836 ext 123. To review all the necessary requirements please go to:
  4. Where can primary care practices receive assistance with meaningful use? Primary Care Practices can receive assistance from the Regional Extension Centers – click here to register for services –
  5. Is my EHR vendor’s product certified for Meaningful Use? Visit the Certified Health IT Product List (CHPL) to find out.

Important Meaningful Use Deadlines for 2014

  • March 31, 2014 at 11:59 pm ET: Attestation deadline for Medicare eligible professionals for the 2013 program year
  • September 30: End of 2014 fiscal year and end of the 2014 reporting period for eligible hospitals
  • November 30, 2014 at 11:59 pm ET: Attestation deadline for Medicare eligible hospitals for the 2014 program year
  • December 31: End of 2014 calendar year and end of the 2014 reporting period for eligible professionals

Latest Meaningful Use News

Deadline Extended to Attest to Meaningful Use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program for 2013

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending the deadline for eligible professionals to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program 2013 reporting year from 11:59 pm ET on February 28, 2014 to 11:59 pm ET March 31, 2014.

This extension will allow more time for providers to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2013 program year, as well as avoid the 2015 payment adjustment.

If you have questions about this extension or about the EHR Incentive Program, contact Terri Gonzalez, Director of Practice Improvement at the NCMS Foundation at 919-833-3836, x123.

In addition, CMS is offering assistance to eligible hospitals that may have experienced difficulty attesting to submit their attestation retroactively and avoid the 2015 payment adjustment.

This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program or any other CMS program, including the electronic submission for the Physician Quality Reporting System EHR Incentive Program Pilot

How to attest?
If you are an eligible professional, you may use the registration and attestation system to submit your attestation for meaningful use for the 2013 reporting year.  You must attest prior to 11:59 pm ET on March 31, 2014 to meet the new 2013 program deadline. 

If you are an eligible hospital, you may contact CMS for assistance submitting your attestation retroactively.  You must contact CMS by 11:59 pm on March 15, 2014 in order to participate for the 2013 program year. 

If you are an eligible professional working on your attestation for the 2013 reporting period, there are resources available to help you with the registration and attestation process. 

The EHR Information Center is open to assist you with all of your registration and attestation system inquiries. Please call 1-888-734-6433 (primary number) or 888-734-6563 (TTY number). The EHR Information Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Central Time), except federal holidays.

Stage 1 and Stage 2 Requirements 

Stage One Requirements:

(from CMS:) Meaningful use includes both a core set and a menu set of objectives that are specific to eligible professionals or eligible hospitals and CAHs. For eligible professionals, there are a total of 24 meaningful use objectives.  To qualify for an incentive payment, 19 of these 24 objectives must be met:

  • 14 required core objectives
  • 5 objectives chosen from a list of 10 menu set objectives.

For eligible hospitals and CAHs, there are a total of 23 meaningful use objectives. To qualify for an incentive payment, 18 of these 23 objectives must be met:

  • 13 required core objectives
  • 5 objectives chosen from a list of 10 menu set objectives.

CMS provides Meaningful Use Specification Sheets that bring together critical information on each objective to help you understand what you need to do to meet the program requirements. Each specification sheet covers a single eligible professional core or menu set objective in detail, including information on:

  • Meeting the measure for each objective
  • How to calculate the numerator and denominator for each objective
  • How to qualify for an exclusion to an objective
  • In-depth definitions of terms that clarify objective requirements
  • Requirements for attesting to each measure

Stage 2 Requirements:

In order to get to Stage 2 requirements, eligible professionals will need to have met Stage 1 requirements of the EHR Incentive Programs for a 90-day period in your first year of participation and a full year in your second year of participation. For all of the specifics on meeting Stage 2 requirements, visit CMS:

Tools and Resources


CMS has several resources located on the EHR Incentive Programs website to help EPs properly meet meaningful use and attest, including:

  • A Registration & Attestation page on the CMS EHR Incentive Programs website that houses information on registration and attestation, and includes links to additional resources.
  • The Meaningful Use Attestation Calculator allows EPs and eligible hospitals to determine if they have met the Stage 1 meaningful use guidelines before they attest in the system. The calculator prints a copy of each EP’s or eligible hospital’s specific measure summary.
  • The Attestation User Guide for Medicare Eligible Professionals provides step-by-step guidance for EPs participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program on navigating the attestation system.
  • The Attestation Worksheet for EPs allows users to enter their meaningful use measure values, creating a quick reference tool to use while attesting.


  • The NCMS Webinar for Specialists: Meeting Meaningful Use Requirements for CMS EHR Incentive Payments
    On September 12, NCMS Director of Practice Improvement Terri Gonzalez led an overview of the Meaningful Use requirements as they pertain to specialists. Download the presentation (PDF) now for more information.


Print Friendly