Meaningful use is a government program that encourages the use and adoption of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) by medical providers, including medical imaging providers, via incentives of up to $44,000 per eligible professional. On the flip side of the coin, starting in 2015, Medicare payment reductions will begin for those that do not demonstrate meaningful use.
Those who end up facing these reductions will fall into two categories: those that are unable to achieve meaningful use and those who are just plain unwilling.
“There is going to be a tipping point for radiology soon. There is still time for radiologists to gain most of these incentives, but the clock is ticking; they really need to have a solution in place by October 2013. We are all headed in the same direction here, and those who choose not to participate are going to find themselves not only noncompliant, but left behind.”
The quote above was shared by Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, vice chair of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and coauthor of The Radiologist’s Guide to Meaningful Use, in a recent article published by ImagingBiz.
Dreyer’s comment boils down to this: it is absolutely imperative that medical imaging professionals understand that this is the last year to capitalize on remaining incentives.
Five Obstacles to Meaningful Use
In January of this year, the American Medical Association (AMA) submitted formal comments to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), outlining five problems they perceive with the implementation of meaningful use, including:
- No evaluation process exists. An external, independent evaluation is necessary to improve and inform the future of the program.
- A pass rate of 100% is not “reasonable and achievable.” Failing to meet just one measure by 1% would make a physician ineligible for incentives and subject to financial penalties.
- The program takes a one-size-fits-all approach, which is not appropriate. Program requirements should be more flexible and better structured to accommodate various practice patterns and specialties.
- The usability of certified EHRs is not addressed. The EHR certification process should address physician usability concerns.
- Health information technology (HIT) infrastructure barriers need to be resolved. The health IT infrastructure does not enable physicians to electronically share patient data readily with other healthcare providers. In order to allow an efficient and secure electronic information exchange infrastructure improvement must be a priority.
“It makes no sense to add stages and requirements to a program when even savvy EHR users and specialists are having difficulty meeting the Stage 1 measures,” writes AMA Executive Vice President James Madara, MD. “An external, independent evaluation is necessary to improve and inform the future of the program.”
“If physicians…are unable to securely, accurately and effectively exchange health data about their patients, the promise that health IT holds for enabling high quality and efficient care will be just a pipe dream,” he adds.
For medical imaging professionals who are struggling with these five obstacles, now is a critical time to focus on overcoming them. Learn more about what you can be doing today to advance your EHR initiative.