Authors of a study in the September issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology say, with an estimated $1.5 billion in potential bonus payments for radiology professionals at stake, radiologists should study and respond to recent federal regulations related to meaningful use of complete certified ambulatory electronic health records and their equivalents.
Meaningful use is a hot health care topic because of the significant incentives available to providers who meaningfully use certified electronic health record (EHR) systems, as well as the looming penalties for those who do not.
According to meaningful use experts, many radiologists mistakenly believe they were "left out" of the meaningful use rewards or that compliance is technically impractical. However, "with diligent preparation, including the adoption of new technology and workflows, the vast majority of radiologists can qualify before October 2012 to capture the full available rewards and avoid later penalties," said Murray A. Reicher, MD, FACR, co-author of the article and chairman of DR Systems, Inc.
Reicher recommends radiologists first become knowledgeable with regard to the required technology and clinical objectives. He also says it would be wise for radiologists to become active participants in their hospital information systems planning process.
"The regulations do not make it easy for radiologists and other specialists to qualify, but they will need to comply nevertheless, using existing and potentially emerging technologies, said Reicher.
"Ultimately, the requirement to collect and communicate clinical information in a standardized manner may finally provide radiologists the clinical integration required to provide ideal patient care," he said.
The ACR, CMS and the US Department of Health and Human Services all provide excellent online resources for meaningful use.
For more information about JACR, visit www.jacr.org.
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