Sharing radiology images might seem like the most achievable meaningful use objective in Stage 2, but it needs to be make sense for your medical practice.
Among the six new menu objectives in the Stage 2 rules for meaningful use, sharing imaging results might seem the most achievable objective.
The objective reads as follows: Imaging results consisting of the image itself and any explanation or other accompanying information are accessible through certified electronic health record technology (CEHRT). The measuring criteria requires that more than 10 percent of all scans and tests whose result is an image ordered by the eligible professional (EP) for patients seen during the EHR reporting period are incorporated into or accessible through CEHRT.
The objective excludes EPs who orders less than 100 tests whose result is an image during the EHR reporting period; or any EP who has no access to electronic imaging results at the start of the EHR reporting period.
According to Mary Griskewicz, senior director of health information systems for Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the menu objective is important since it will assist with overall care coordination between providers and also eliminate potential for waste and duplicate extras.
Griskewicz said one of the first steps practices should take is to verify if the EHR system in place has the capacity and capability to receive the information required. If not, she said, practices should reach out to their vendor to ask for assistance.
Naomi Levinthal, consultant and healthcare IT advisor at The Advisory Board, said the since objective has an exclusion, "it may not necessarily be one that makes sense for providers to go after if they really don't order that many imaging results. Because you can't hold an exclusion in the menu set towards the total number that you need to do, but you may have to report on something else."
Levinthal said an important step in meeting the objective is to determine if a vendor has access to a Picture Archiving Communications System (PACS), which is used for radiology imaging.
"Practices need to make sure that they have availability of the imaging results through either an associated PACS or something they could log into and see, perhaps through the hospital that a practice is affiliated with," she said.
"A lot of ambulatory practices are certified complete, which means the vendor certified all of the capabilities that are available to them," Levinthal said. "But many practices are choosing from several different systems, so their options may be limited."
Levinthal said practices who get their images back on CD will have the option of scanning images into their system to meet the requirements.
However, interoperability issues could prove to be the fly in the ointment as the Stage 2 deadline approaches since, as Griskweicz cautioned, not all referring physicians and hospitals will have the capability to share information.