Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rule Offers Radiologists Some Clarity

Published on the Sept. 6, 2012 DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

The final rule for Stage 2 of the Meaningful Use (MU) program, released last month, clarifies a few sticking points for the radiology industry, but some questions remain, say industry experts who are still digging through the specifics of the rule.

Still considered to be a move toward standards-based health information exchanges, the final rules for Stage 2 — released by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) set to take effect in 2014 —provide some additional clarity for how radiologists and hospitals should approach MU. But they’re little changed from the proposed versions. The similarities, some said, are surprising.

“It’s interesting that CMS’ final rule resembled the proposed rule as much as it did,” said Michael Peters, legislative and regulatory affairs director for the American College of Radiology (ACR), noting the short time between the publication of the proposed and final rules. “This was probably the result of an extremely quick rule-making that spent less time addressing stakeholders’ concerns.”

Individual providers and practices shouldn’t change their daily workflow and activities just yet, Peters said. The final rule, its requirements, and menu items, have not yet been completely analyzed.

However, it’s clear so far that the final rules offered additional guidance in three main areas: imaging accessibility, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), and hardship exemptions for meeting MU requirements. These areas have also been points of concern for the ACR.

According to Keith Dreyer, DO, chair of the ACR IT and Informatics Committee-Government Relations Subcommittee and radiology vice chair at Massachusetts General Hospital, the final rule guidance should make MU compliance easier for practicing radiologists. It combines certification criteria for eligible hospitals and eligible providers (EPs) in hospital settings with certified electronic health record (EHR) technology. The rule also impacts clinical quality measures.

“The clinical quality measures are better aligned with other quality incentive programs, making the overall process simple to achieve,” he said.

Fortunately, the final rule doesn’t require providers to store imaging results in an EHR with the ONC abandoning its proposal that images be available for download and transfer to third parties. Instead, they can offer a link to study results. In addition, CMS is only requiring 10 percent of images to be accessible this way instead of the 40 percent suggested in the proposed rule.

This change is a double-edge sword, Dreyer said. While it does relieve some of the pressure EPs felt regarding image accessibility, it also affects patients.

“It was disappointing to see the removal of the portion of the proposed MU objective requiring the ability for patients to view, download, and transmit their medical image data,” he said. “This was a common request of patients.”

To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/meaningful-use/content/article/113619/2101122

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September 10, 2012 - Posted by | Healthcare, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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