Imaging Provider Perspectives

In this month’s post, we take a look at responses to one of the questions posed in the interview chapters of The Radiologist’s Guide to Meaningful Use: A step-by-step approach to the Stage 1 CMS EHR Incentive Programs.

Any final thoughts or advice you would offer to other imaging providers that are developing their strategies for meaningful use? Any thoughts or hopes for future stages of the program?

Response: Dr. Keith J. Dreyer, Massachusetts General Hospital

It helps a lot to understand the fundamentals of the program and run an analysis for your imaging practice. It’s well known that most radiologists are eligible, so the question really becomes whether or not you want to participate. Next, you need to review your measure requirements and make sure that your IT vendors are prepared to support your strategy. Lastly, I would encourage you to continue reading articles, visiting the official program websites, attending tradeshows, participating in meaningful use lectures, and doing all you can to stay on top of meaningful use as it applies to radiology.

As for future stages, the hope would be that the challenges for medical specialists—lack of direct clinical relevance, access to technology and data, and inflexible requirements—would be better addressed. The incorporation of imaging data as part of meaningful use and specialty-specific requirements would also increase the relevance of the program.

Response: Dr. Alberto Goldszal, University Radiology Group

Start early. If you haven’t started yet, you really need to hustle. The key here is to be prepared and work with a certified technology provider that can support your strategy. You need to plan your work and work your plan.

Achieving meaningful use is doable, especially for radiology. We have developed, implemented, and adopted clinical information systems for more than twenty years and can conquer this challenge too. But, it needs to be an organized effort on the part of internal and external parties to be successful. If your radiology IT vendors are not ready, you will have difficult decisions to make.

You have to go through the growing pains. You must crawl and walk before you can run. And we are all in the crawling stage, which for this program means putting the data in a structured format. Once we do that, we can enable communication standards and begin to extract additional value out of this collective effort.

Some may believe that the cost of this program outweighs the benefits or that we are never going to get there. These are valid concerns, but if you take the positive out of it, there is no reason to believe that it’s not the right direction to go. The program is evolving and our profession will evolve with it.

Response: Dr. David Mendelson, Mount Sinai Medical Center

If you have any belief that you are going to be involved with these programs, you need to have at least one point person from attending staff and one from finance actively engaged and monitoring program changes. It’s a dynamic topic and you can’t learn it overnight. You really need to review all available material, look at everything you have to do, and stay on top of program requirements. Bottom line is not to be naïve about it.

While the radiology community acknowledges the public health benefits of the programs, with respect to current and future stages, there are better ways to improve the quality of care by radiologists and the imaging profession in general. There should really be meaningful use measures that are specific to medical specialties. To provide a “real” contribution to medical workflow, future stages of the program should provision such efforts as clinical decision support to ensure appropriate imaging, encourage image sharing to reduce unnecessary exams, and promote the tracking and monitoring of radiation dosing. While there might be difficulties with implementing all of this, it’s well worth the effort.

Response: Steven Fischer, Center for Diagnostic Imaging

To be successful, it’s better to get started sooner than later. You need to decide exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to get there. As for future stages, it would be really nice to see an increased focus on technology and processes that are more representative of the roles and responsibilities of medical specialists. Technology, such as decision support for diagnostic image ordering appropriateness, will have a greater impact on radiologists, while also improving the overall patient care workflow.

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