How is HITECH and Meaningful Use impacting your radiology operations?
When you look at the requirements of meaningful use most specialists are completely cut out. Radiologists don’t order prescriptions in the traditional sense. They might order contrast for a CT exam, but not a prescription. In all of our electronic systems, we have no way to e-prescribe, and we don’t need that because we don’t do that.
Meaningful Use is obviously geared toward family physicians. Our concern is that we will not get the benefit of the incentive to adopt the requirements, but we may get the benefit of the penalty when it no longer becomes an incentive. In other words, at a the end of the three stages, all providers – no matter if they were eligible to begin with – may be penalized for not supporting all the things in meaningful use.
There is no way we can support all the requirements of meaningful use. Because our medical records don’t support all those requirements, we won’t be eligible to receive the $44,000 per physician. At some point, if you don’t have one of those electronic medical records that supports all of those things in meaningful use, then you will be penalized. My question then is – and nobody has answered this and nobody knows – we are not going to get the benefit of the incentive, but are we going to get the penalty? Maybe not. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the government would be completely caught off guard by that. Most specialty practices are all unique in some way, that’s why they are special.
If you look at the details of meaningful use and what you have to accomplish to be a meaningful user, only family practice physicians can be meaningful users. There has been a lot of discussion at all the meetings I go to, like SIIM, and no one really knows what that means for us. I guess they just figure we will pay for it ourselves, which is what we have always done in the past.
Radiology has always been on the forefront of adopting technology. We didn’t necessarily need an incentive from the government. Our medical specialty understands the benefit technology can provide to the profession, and we’ve been digital for a long time.
Nobody made us do that. It just became obvious we needed to do it, because you can’t look at a 3,000 slice CT on film. I mean you could, but you would need enough view boxes to line a whole wall, and even then you’re in trouble.
What do you anticipate to be the focus of the conversations at RSNA this year?
You know, that’s always interesting. There always seems to be a theme. One year, digital mammography was the big thing. The next year was a 256 slice CT scanner for heart scans. What is going to be the big news at RSNA? I’ve got to believe the whole topic of the day, Meaningful Use and health information exchanges and where radiology fits in. I don’t really know of anything else big and new going on.
For some of your referring physicians, that had not been on EMRs in the past, are you seeing any movement where they are starting that process?
That’s really where the incentive is for us; to be able to support our referring physicians who will be putting an order in their system when they are going to send somebody to our imaging center for an exam. The order needs to flow directly into our system, and then we can schedule it. When the exam is done and we dictate the report, it automatically flows back into their EMR.
There also has to be a way to validate that they have acknowledged the receipt and read the interpretation. You need to be able to close the loop on that.
Joe Moore is the CIO at Radiology Consultants of Iowa. As Iowa’s largest group of radiologists, Radiology Consultants of Iowa (RCI) has been providing Eastern Iowa communities with radiological services for more than 70 years. At RCI facilities, they offer the latest in high-technology medical imaging services such as High Field (1.5T) MRI-MRA, Open MRI, Spiral CAT Scan, Ultrasound, Color Doppler, Mammography, DEXA and QCT Bone Densitometry, SPECT Nuclear Medicine, Positron Emission Tomography Imaging (PET) and Computed Radiography (CR). / RCI takes pride in their staff of Board Certified radiologists who have advanced training in the areas of Nuclear Medicine, Neuroradiology, Muskuloskeletal Radiology, Chest Radiology, Body Imaging, Mammography, Ultrasound, and Interventional Radiology. www.rciowa.com