The last mile of meaningful use — value

In this months post, we take a look at an article written by, Bob Cooke, Vice President, Marketing, National Decision Support Company.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT took a leap forward with their recent releases of the Stage 3 Proposed Rule and HIT certification criteria, respectively. At the highest level, a key requirement derived from these proposed program updates is that providers will need to comply with a revised set of requirements in order to receive future value-based reimbursements.

The Stage 3 Proposed Rule focuses on the exchange of data across episodes of care as opposed to whether or not providers “see patients,” “have office visits,” or fall under others terms that don’t really apply to radiologists. It’s not that radiologists don’t conduct “office visits,” or “see patients,” it’s just that to apply these definitions against a radiologist’s compliance with Meaningful Use, and more importantly, extracting value from participation by imaging is practically impossible. Collecting this data is not enough for radiology.

Take smoking status for example, a fairly simple piece of data. For most of the radiologists in the country, this simple piece of data is not available as part of the interpretation process. Collecting it when you see a patient is one thing, but for a radiologist to see it when they interpret an exam for the patient, it can mean everything, as Brigham and Women’s Hospital found out when a jury awarded a patient $16.7 million for a missed cancer diagnosis on a simple CXR for a patient. It turns out the radiologist did not have access to the patients history, which included a family history of lung cancer and a 30 year habit. The exchange of this kind of data is critical to healthcare providers and consumers alike.

Exchanging data across episodes of care (e.g. a radiology encounter) has tremendous benefits to radiology as it enables practices to capture relevant clinical information and apply it towards value-based workflows using widely available, and established, implementation standards. Furthermore, this same exchange mechanism transports coded radiology results, updated medications (for interventional exams) and vitals as appropriate, as the Stage 3 Proposed Rule formally defines the radiology report as part of the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA).

Another key component of Meaningful Use is Clinical Decision Support (CDS). And, the Stage 3 Proposed Rule encompasses the implementation of CDS for recording clinical quality measures and to align incentives with the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS). Furthermore, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) requires physicians to consult CDS in order to receive payments for Medicare claims.

All in all, radiology has an opportunity to leverage these proposed program updates to deeply embed themselves into the patient care cycle and measure and improve their value in delivering more cost effective and higher quality patient care.

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