EHRs do not achieve these benefits merely by transferring information from paper form into digital form. EHRs can only deliver their benefits when the information and the EHR are standardized and “structured” in uniform ways, just as ATMs depend on uniformly structured data. Therefore, the “meaningful use” approach requires identification of standards for EHR systems. These are contained in the ONC Standards and Certification regulation announced on July 13, 2010.
EHRs cannot achieve their full potential if providers don’t use the functions that deliver the most benefit – for example, exchanging information, and entering orders through the computer so that the “decision support” functions and other automated processes are activated. Therefore, the “meaningful use” approach requires that providers meet specified objectives in the use of EHRs, in order to qualify for the incentive payments.