Meaningful Use Terminology

This archived page is to serve as a quick reference guide to some basic terms and phrases for Meaningful Use, the primary Medicare reimbursement program prior to 2017. CMS provides a list of definitions for relevant meaningful use phrases on each Regulations and Guidance documentation. These definitions have been compiled here for convenience for our users.1 For more information on the Medicare reimbursement program for 2017 and onward, see MIPS.


When a patient possesses all of the necessary information needed to view, download, or transmit their information. This could include providing patients with instructions on how to access their health information, the website address they must visit for online access, a unique and registered username or password, instructions on how to create a login, or any other instructions, tools, or materials that patients need in order to view, download, or transmit their information.
Active Patients
Patients with at least two office visits in the last 24 months.
Appropriate Technical Capabilities
A technical capability would be appropriate if it protected the electronic health information created or maintained by the certified EHR technology. All of these capabilities could be part of the certified EHR technology or outside systems and programs that support the privacy and security of certified EHR technology.
Business Days
Business days are defined as Monday through Friday excluding federal or state holidays on which the EP or their respective administrative staffs are unavailable.
Clinical Decision Support
HIT functionality that builds upon the foundation of an EHR to provide persons involved in care processes with general and person-specific information, intelligently filtered and organized, at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care.
Clinical Summary
An after-visit summary that provides a patient with relevant and actionable information and instructions containing the patient name, provider’s office contact information, date and location of visit, an updated medication list, updated vitals, reason(s) for visit, procedures and other instructions based on clinical discussions that took place during the office visit, any updates to a problem list, immunizations or medications administered during visit, summary of topics covered/considered during visit, time and location of next appointment/testing if scheduled, or a recommended appointment time if not scheduled, list of other appointments and tests that the patient needs to schedule with contact information, recommended patient decision aids, laboratory and other diagnostic test orders, test/laboratory results (if received before 24 hours after visit), and symptoms.
Stands for Computerized Provider Order Entry — CPOE entails the provider’s use of computer assistance to directly enter medication orders from a computer or mobile device. The order is also documented or captured in a digital, structured, and computable format for use in improving safety and organization.
Diagnostic Test Results
All data needed to diagnose and treat disease. Examples include, but are not limited to, blood tests, microbiology, urinalysis, pathology tests, radiology, cardiac imaging, nuclear medicine tests, and pulmonary function tests.
Electronic Notes
Defined as electronic progress notes. CMS will rely on providers own determinations and guidelines defining when progress notes are necessary to communicate individual patient circumstances and for coordination with previous documentation of patient observations, treatments and/or results in the electronic health record.
Medication Reconciliation
The process of identifying the most accurate list of all medications that the patient is taking, including name, dosage, frequency, and route, by comparing the medical record to an external list of medications obtained from a patient, hospital, or other provider.
Office Visit
Office visits include separate, billable encounters that result from evaluation and management services provided to the patient and include: (1) Concurrent care or transfer of care visits, (2) Consultant visits, or (3) Prolonged Physician Service without Direct (Face-To-Face) Patient Contact (tele-health). A consultant visit occurs when a provider is asked to render an expert opinion/service for a specific condition or problem by a referring provider.
Patient Preference
The method of communication that patients prefer to receive their reminders such as (but not limited to) by mail, by phone or by secure messaging.
Patient-Specific Education Resources
Resources identified through logic built into certified EHR technology which evaluates information about the patient and suggests education resources that would be of value to the patient.
Preferred Language
The language by which the patient prefers to communicate.
Permissible Prescriptions
The concept of only permissible prescriptions refers to the current restrictions established by the Department of Justice on electronic prescribing for controlled substances in Schedule II-V. (The substances in Schedule II-V can be found at Any prescription not subject to these restrictions would be permissible.
The authorization by an EP to a pharmacist to dispense a drug that the pharmacist would not dispense to the patient without such authorization.
Problem List
A list of current and active diagnoses as well as past diagnoses relevant to the current care of the patient.
Public Health Agency
An entity under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tribal organization, State level and/or city/county level administration that serves a public health function.
Relevant Encounter
An encounter during which the EP performs a medication reconciliation due to new medication or long gaps in time between patient encounters or for other reasons determined appropriate by the EP. Essentially an encounter is relevant if the EP judges it to be so.
Secure Message
Any electronic communication between a provider and patient that ensures only those parties can access the communication. This electronic message could be email or the electronic messaging function of a PHR, an online patient portal, or any other electronic means.
Specific Conditions
Those conditions listed in the active patient problem list.
Transition of Care
The movement of a patient from one setting of care (hospital, ambulatory primary care practice, ambulatory specialty care practice, long-term care, home health, rehabilitation facility) to another.
Any means of electronic transmission according to any transport standard(s) (SMTP, FTP, REST, SOAP, etc.). However, the relocation of physical electronic media (for example, USB, CD) does not qualify as transmission although the movement of the information from online to the physical electronic media will be a download.
Unique Patient
If a patient is seen by an EP more than once during the EHR reporting period, then for purposes of measurement that patient is only counted once in the denominator for the measure. All the measures relying on the term ‘‘unique patient’’ relate to what is contained in the patient’s medical record. Not all of this information will need to be updated or even be needed by the provider at every patient encounter. This is especially true for patients whose encounter frequency is such that they would see the same provider multiple times in the same EHR reporting period.
The term ‘‘up-to-date’’ means the list is populated with the most recent diagnosis known by the EP. This knowledge could be ascertained from previous records, transfer of information from other providers, diagnosis by the EP, or querying the patient.
The patient (or authorized representative) accessing their health information online.
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