Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records: Experiences from the Field and Future Opportunities

Sarah Patricia Slight, Eta S. Berner, William Galanter, Stanley Huff, Bruce L. Lambert, Carole Lannon, Christoph U. Lehmann, Brian J. McCourt, Michael McNamara, Nir Menachemi, Thomas H. Payne, S. Andrew Spooner, Gordon D. Schiff, Tracy Y. Wang, Ayse Akincigil, Stephen Crystal, Stephen P. Fortmann, Meredith L. Vandermeer, David W. Bates*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: With the aim of improving health care processes through health information technology (HIT), the US government has promulgated requirements for "meaningful use" (MU) of electronic health records (EHRs) as a condition for providers receiving financial incentives for the adoption and use of these systems. Considerable uncertainty remains about the impact of these requirements on the effective application of EHR systems Objective: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-sponsored Centers for Education and Research in Therapeutics (CERTs) critically examined the impact of the MU policy relating to the use of medications and jointly developed recommendations to help inform future HIT policy. Methods: We gathered perspectives from a wide range of stakeholders (N=35) who had experience with MU requirements, including academicians, practitioners, and policy makers from different health care organizations including and beyond the CERTs. Specific issues and recommendations were discussed and agreed on as a group. Results: Stakeholders' knowledge and experiences from implementing MU requirements fell into 6 domains: (1) accuracy of medication lists and medication reconciliation, (2) problem list accuracy and the shift in HIT priorities, (3) accuracy of allergy lists and allergy-related standards development, (4) support of safer and effective prescribing for children, (5) considerations for rural communities, and (6) general issues with achieving MU. Standards are needed to better facilitate the exchange of data elements between health care settings. Several organizations felt that their preoccupation with fulfilling MU requirements stifled innovation. Greater emphasis should be placed on local HIT configurations that better address population health care needs. Conclusions: Although MU has stimulated adoption of EHRs, its effects on quality and safety remain uncertain. Stakeholders felt that MU requirements should be more flexible and recognize that integrated models may achieve information-sharing goals in alternate ways. Future certification rules and requirements should enhance EHR functionalities critical for safer prescribing of medications in children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere30
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2015


  • Electronic health records
  • Health policy
  • Meaningful use
  • Medical informatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Informatics


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