American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Basic EHR Starter Guide

In order to receive the electronic health record (EHR) incentive payment, an eligible professional (EP) must show that he or she is meaningfully using certified EHR. This Basic Starter Guide addresses some of the issues related to showing meaningful use of a certified EHR.

  • Register for the program: EPs may register for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs via the CMS website.
  • Identify whether your state is participating in Medicaid: Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs are run by individual states. Please contact your state Medicaid program to find if your state is participating. You can also check the CMS state information page of the CMS EHR website for updates on the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program progress.
  • Choose between the Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs: To qualify for the Medicaid EHR program, an EP must meaningfully use certified EHRs and at least 30 percent of all patient encounters in a continuous 90-day period in the most recent calendar year must be with Medicaid patients. However, not all states have committed to participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. The requirement for meaningfully using certified EHRs, the timelines, and the payment amounts differ for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment Programs. While an EP can no longer receive incentive payments form the Medicare EHR Incentive program, 2016 is the last year to begin participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive program and receive an incentive payment. To read more, visit Medicare vs Medicaid EHR Programs.
  • Understand what it means for an EHR to be “certified”: The EHR incentive payments will only be available to those EPs that meaningfully use certified EHRs. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) establishes the standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria that will determine whether an EHR is certified for the EHR Incentive Programs. For more information on the ONC criteria, see the ONC website.
  • Choose an EHR product: The ONC website lists EHR products and vendors that have been certified for the EHR Incentive Programs.

Many considerations go into selecting and implementing an EHR product and negotiating the EHR vendor contract. Read about the important issues that an EHR vendor contract should include.

If you have further questions about the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, please contact Bobby Kopp at or 202-672-1506.