To the dismay of the radiology community, medical imaging was not included as a key component in the initial draft of the CMS Meaningful Use (MU) of Electronic Health Records criteria. Fortunately, for patients and the tens of thousands of radiology professionals who serve them, imaging data components have been expanded and the role of radiology professionals more broadly included due to the efforts of several key groups including the American College of Radiology. This positive change affects a broad range of healthcare providers including hospitals, healthcare systems, independent imaging centers, radiologists and other physicians.
Meaningful Use, as most health information professionals realize by now, is a staged implementation with Stage 1 focusing on electronic data capture (including images), while Stages 2 and 3 expand on this foundation by promoting quality, structured information exchange, and safety, efficiency, and population health improvements.
Each provider must now evaluate which criteria they already meet and those they don’t. For imaging services providers, existing RIS, PACS, and voice recognition systems may satisfy some requirements for information exchange. But most facilities will require at least some upgrades to these systems. PACS platforms should go beyond the basics of DICOM and HL7 and enable communication with third-party applications through use of XDS, API interface and other integration methods. RIS systems are now available that can natively capture, store, and communicate meaningful data—without hindering workflow.
The certification process has now started and will continue in 2011, so healthcare providers can ensure needed functionality from a list of certified systems. Clinical decision support and image sharing technology are also key ingredients to satisfying Meaningful Use objectives.
Achieving the widespread exchange of information—including image data—among multiple healthcare providers is a daunting task, but the good news is that the government’s stimulus (and penalties) will drive greater use of EHR technology—which has the potential to greatly improve care for each patient. At the same time, monitoring and reporting data to federal committees can help achieve healthcare improvements for the population as a whole.
Diana Nole is President of Carestream Health’s Digital Medical Solutions (DMS) group. She oversees all operations for the business, which includes Carestream’s healthcare IT and digital medical imaging businesses. She holds an MBA from the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School and a B.A. degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from the State University of New York at Potsdam. www.carestreamhealth.com