Meaningful Use Incentive Program: Do You Qualify?


In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act authorized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide incentive payments to eligible providers and hospitals who adopt, implement or upgrade to, and then meaningfully use, certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. Their stated goals were to increase the adoption of technology to improve individual and population health outcomes, increase transparency and efficiency and improve the ability to study and enhance care delivery. CMS created the EHR Incentive Program to meet this objective. The program is popularly known as the Meaningful Use Incentive Program because of the requirement to meet certain measures that constitute “meaningful use” of the software.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

Although there is only one EHR Incentive Program, the rules for providers participating with Medicare are slightly different than the rules for providers participating with Medicaid. The vast majority of dentists who participate in the program will participate under the Medicaid rules. Under the Medicaid rules, the program is voluntary and there are no penalties for not participating. Medicare providers, however, may see a reduction in their reimbursement rates until they are in full compliance. The Medicaid rules also allow providers to cease participation at any time without penalties or requiring funds to be returned.

What Is the Incentive?

Eligible providers under the Medicaid rules can receive a total of $63,750 over a six-year period. In the first payment year, providers would receive $21,250 for simply adopting, implementing or upgrading (A/I/U) to a certified software. In years two through six, providers will need to meet meaningful use requirements to receive $8,500 per year.

Meaningful Use

“Meaningful use” is the term used by CMS to describe how a certified EHR needs to be used in order to qualify for the program. The goals of meaningful use are to: improve quality, safety and efficiency; reduce health disparities; engage patients and family; improve care coordination of population and public health; and maintain privacy and security of patient health information. Eligible providers participating in the EHR Incentive Program will go through three stages of meaningful use. The first stage focuses on data capture and sharing. The second stage advances clinical processes. The third and final stage focuses on improved outcomes.

Eligible Providers

To be considered eligible for the program under the Medicaid rules, providers must have had at least 30% Medicaid or “needy individual” patient encounters in a 90-day period of the year in which they are attesting. Eligibility and attestation is done on a provider basis, not on a practice basis. For providers practicing in a group setting, the incentive would be paid to the individual, not the group, unless a prior arrangement has been made.


Providers interested in participating in the EHR Incentive Program must begin the A/I/U year by 2016. Providers who have already completed their A/I/U year will need to complete the remaining five years by 2022 in order to receive the full $63,750 incentive. However, providers can skip a year if they are not prepared to meet the requirements in that particular year or may decide not to move forward with the remaining years without any penalty.

Certified EHR Technology

To qualify for the program, eligible providers must use an EHR that has been certified by the Office of the National Coordinator Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB). To be certified, software providers must complete a rigorous testing process and show that all of the necessary measures are included in the system. Eligible providers are responsible for ensuring that they attest with certified software.

Can I Participate?

Yes. As long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements; adopt, implement or upgrade to a certified EHR; and then meaningfully use the software, you can receive the incentive payments.

Dentrix EHR Powered by TeamLINKS

We are pleased to help our Dentrix customers participate in the EHR Incentive Program through purchase of our add-on module, Dentrix EHR. Dentrix EHR is powered by our partner, TeamLINKS, and pulls some of the meaningful use criteria out of Dentrix to populate the reports necessary to attest to the EHR Incentive Program. Any remaining criteria that is not captured in Dentrix will need to be added directly into Dentrix EHR. Dentrix EHR simplifies the process of attesting for the EHR Incentive Program.


When you purchase Dentrix EHR, you can also sign up for the Meaningful Use Assistance Protocol Program, or MAPP. For an additional fee, TeamLINKS MAPP helps eligible providers move through the complexity of the EHR Incentive Program to make sure you address all steps and meet all requirements.

To learn more, go to or call 800-983-5908 to purchase today.

Author: Nate Nelson
Published: 11/30/2015
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