While Meaningful Use regulations provide potential bonus payments of $1.5 billion over the next four years, many radiologists have been slow to comply. According to a survey published by Diagnostic Imaging earlier this year, only about four out of 10 responding radiology professionals reported they had attested to Meaningful Use.
In the latest issue of InPractice, a publication of the American Roentgen Ray Society, Murray Reicher, M.D., co-founder of San Diego-based imaging technology vendor DR Systems, outlined several steps radiologists can take to implement Meaningful Use.
First, Reicher said, radiologists need to understand what's a stake. Most hospitals and radiologists' professional colleagues already have access to technology that allows them to exchange information based on Meaningful Use standards.
"In a world where radiologists are already suffering from commoditization, do we seriously think it is a good idea to become electronically isolation from our patients and colleagues?" Reicher said. In addition, he said, Meaningful Use strategies should include "patient engagement," since the "new reality" is that consumers are now taking responsibility for selecting their providers.
Radiologists also should avoid opting out of the program by claiming hardship, Reicher said. "There is no opting out of the realities that MU is here and that there will be long-term payment reductions and competitive penalties for not participating." What's more, he said, radiologists should expect Meaningful Use regulations to evolve over time, and thus should create an implementation plan that can do the same.
Reicher also said that it's important for radiologists to remember that ambulatory Meaningful Use incentive payments are physician based, since they typically staff multiple locations of service. "The requirement for multisite availability strongly favors a web-based solution," he said.
Reicher added that despite the extra effort necessary to comply, he thinks that Meaningful Use is a "blessing in disguise" for radiology practices. "In fact," he said, "a [certified EHR technology] that meets Meaningful Use requirements will both improve healthcare and make practices more efficient. But this will be true only if providers choose their CEHRT carefully."