Meaningful use. It’s a simple term, but I hear it misused so often. Let’s be clear about it. Meaningful use is not the billions that the federal government is ploughing into health care information technology, nor is it the IT programs themselves. It isn’t the regulations (though in casual conversation, it’s a natural bit of shorthand.)
No. It’s simply the government’s criterion for subsidies that it will give providers who have obtained state-of-the-art IT systems and are actually using them to file claims, analyze patient populations, manage care, and so on.
It is the government’s carrot, and providers should be concerned about the stick: penalties if Medicare providers (and who isn’t?) don’t buy and use these systems to good effect.