Multi-Location Practice Pursues Early Adoption, Citing Improved Workflow and Patient Outcomes, Related Cost Savings and Government Incentives
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J., Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- University Radiology Group, New Jersey's largest provider of subspecialty radiology and teleradiology services, is working with MedInformatix Inc. to implement Federal Government-certified technology that enables medical practices to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use goals and objectives under The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for Health Information Technology.
University Radiology is a long-time user of MedInformatix' Radiology Information System (RIS), which includes an Electronic Health Records (EHR) module that facilitates and enables practices to meet Stage 1 meaningful use requirements. Stage 1 meaningful use focuses largely on electronic data capture. The vendor's RIS, unlike systems from other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of National Coordinator (ONC)-certified Stage 1 meaningful use vendors, is a single-package rather than a modular system. Modular systems from multiple vendors need more set up and integration, a costly difference that slows a practice's ability to achieve Stage 1 meaningful use. "Most solutions easily address data storage. The key to achieving meaningful use is data retrieval across each of a medical practice's groups and departments," said Alberto Goldszal, University Radiology's Chief Information Officer. "I am most impressed by MedInformatix' ability to integrate the product in a managed framework that enables radiologists, the front desk and the IT department to seamlessly retrieve and work with patient and practice data in accordance with best practices.
"Our weekly working sessions with MedInformatix are enabling our practice to quickly implement all [Stage 1] required database metrics, including such things as patients' smoking habits, vaccination histories, allergies, truly every bit of information to help make the best health care decisions," Goldszal said.
University Radiology and MedInformatix have installed and enabled 15 of approximately 25 identifying data entries for patients, which everybody at the practice will be automatically prompted for and required to enter to ensure that radiologists have all of the necessary information for proper diagnosis and treatment. The EHR application will guide users toward collecting all patient information, down to the correct spelling of names and addresses.
"If something isn't entered, or is entered incorrectly, the data entry process cannot move forward," Goldszal said.
Some critical of the ARRA's meaningful use provision express reservations over what they term the "Big Brother" aspects of Stage 1, which requires the capturing of so highly personal patient data. Goldszal strongly disagrees.
"Meaningful use establishes a process to measure and report key health information. When you think about such things as influenza and the potential for outbreaks of current and future esoteric diseases, the more information that's available, the better from a national health perspective.
"Some smaller practices also express concern over the capital investments that meaningful use requires," Goldszal continued. "The thing is, the cost savings and benefits of a digital as opposed to an analog records system is sizable with respect to a lessened need for record keeping staff and the time required to search for analog-based records, which translates to more money spent."
These factors, combined with Government incentive payments of as much as $44,000 per provider for medical facilities implementing certified technology by 2012, rapidly speed the ROI curve as meaningful use improves practice workflow across all areas, including the scheduling of appointments and exams, all the way to billing.
In addition to improved treatments and patient outcomes, the sooner that radiologists implement meaningful use technology, the better from a financial incentive perspective. Those that wait until 2013 and 2014 receive lower incentives, while those that fail to comply with the provisions by 2015 face financial penalties of up to 5 percent in the form of CMS reimbursement reductions.
Stages 2 and 3 of meaningful use will address additional information exchange capabilities, including overall quality, safety and efficiency toward an improvement in the U.S. population's overall health.
"For us, there are only benefits. There are no disadvantages to meaningful use certification," Goldszal said.
MedInformatix, Inc. (www.medinformatix.com) is a leading national provider of fully integrated Radiology Information Systems, Electronic Health Records, and Enterprise Practice Management and Billing Software. The MedInformatix products have been built around 25 years of workflow expertise. MedInformatix's suite of products is designed on a single database using Microsoft SQL. MedInformatix has a long history of successful implementations, such as a single physician who went live in 1994, a 13-location cardiology practice, the busiest radiology practice in Manhattan, or any practice in one of the 15 other specialties served. Experience why so many practices from various specialties choose MedInformatix. With 13 Microsoft nominations in 8 years, MedInformatix can turn the dream of a paperless, integrated practice into a reality.