This article will interest you if you live in the United States and are:
- A radiology or cardiology professional who has been asked a bunch of questions filled with unfamiliar acronyms and words like “Image Results,” “170.314(a)(12),” and “MU2” by your hospital’s Meaningful Use team, or you are
- On your hospital’s Meaningful Use team who just received blank stares when you asked your radiology department team to assist you with adding the “Image Results” to the objectives you can achieve.
In this article, I walk you through how to achieve one of the easiest wins in the world of Meaningful Use. If you get to the bottom of this post and think, “Really, that is all I have to do?”, then we have been successful.
Also, I should point out that the information I will be giving below is not McKesson-specific. It should be useful regardless of the image management vendor or vendors in use at your institution.
- CONNECT EHR TO PACS
- SEE REPORT WITH LOTS OF BIG WORDS
- PUSH SHINY BUTTON
- SEE IMAGES THAT REPORT TALKED ABOUT, YAY!
- COUNT STUDIES, DO MATH
But you are probably looking for a bit more detail…
A Crash Course on Meaningful Use for Diagnostic Imaging Professionals
If you are from the radiology or cardiology department of your institution, you have likely been living in blissful ignorance of Meaningful Use (MU) up to now, other than knowing that there are a whole lot of people in other departments doing a whole lot of work under the MU banner. If you already know all about MU, you can skip this installment in the series.
The term “meaningful use” is shorthand for entire sections of the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act (ARRA) and a program that flowed from those sections. The basic idea was to encourage providers to start using health information technology (HIT) which they have otherwise been slow to adopt. When applied thoughtfully and given time to have an effect, there are many benefits of using HIT. These include improving quality of care, efficiency, and patient safety, as well as increasing patient engagement and coordination of care. In the short run, of course, this means a lot of people trying to figure out what to change and how to change it at their particular institution.
The Meaningful Use program works in the short term by providing financial incentives to eligible hospitals and eligible providers that show that they are “meaningfully using” their EHR by meeting thresholds of specific requirements. Beginning in 2015, the incentives will turn into penalties for those who have not successfully met meaningful use.
There are two kinds of objectives in MU: Core and Menu. Core objectives are non-negotiable – you either meet all 17 of them or you do not get your incentive money. Menu objectives are kind of optional. You only need to meet some of them, depending on what year of Meaningful Use use you are in.
Meaningful Use requirements are also organized into stages. That is why you will hear people talk about MU1 and MU2 – this is shorthand for stage 1 and stage 2. Each stage raises the bar. There are more objectives both because many menu objectives become reclassified as core, but also new objectives are introduced. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) define what is in each stage and what is meant by each objective. There is also a MU3 but as its content is far from final and its start date is still a ways off we will leave that out of our discussion today. Although some providers are playing catch up and just starting MU1 now, MU2 is the hot stage that most people are working to achieve right now.
If you are a diagnostic imaging professional, the good news is that, at this point, 99 percent of the requirements of Meaningful Use do not affect you. Ground zero thus far for MU has been the Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems used to manage non-image information. This is not that surprising given all the investments that radiology and cardiology have already made in the last two decades to eliminate film and paper within the walls of their departments.
But now that MU2 has got around to the use of images outside of the department walls, you will need to familiarize yourself with MU and its terminology. For example, when the MU people talk about “tests,” in imaging terms, they mean “studies.” Likewise, when they talk about “results,” they typically mean “reports.”
The only other thing you probably want to know is that when someone says, “EP” or “Eligible Professional,” from your perspective that is MU-speak for a health care professional who is not hospital-based and is authorized to provide care for the patient (e.g., a referring physician). You are probably already delivering reports to these same individuals already, if not images.
Finally, when encountering an unfamiliar acronym related to Meaningful Use, there is a good chance you will find it defined in the ONC’s Glossary of Government Acronyms.
To be continued…
Visit the McKesson website for answers to your most common questions about Meaningful Use, or feel free to ask me a question by leaving a comment on this blog post below.