Radiologist Testifies on Meaningful Use Criteria

May 26, 2011

Radiology was one of five specialties which spoke before the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in mid-May. It’s the first time the ONC invited a radiologist to formally participate in this advisory committee hearing.

Radiologists finally got their turn to tell the government what changes to make to the draft stage 2 meaningful use (MU) guidelines. Final versions of the guidelines will be submitted on June 8th. Radiology was one of five specialties which spoke before the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in mid-May.

It’s the first time the ONC invited a radiologist to formally participate in this advisory committee hearing. Representing radiologists was Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, co-chair of the American College of Radiology's (ACR) IT and Informatics Committee and vice chair of imaging informatics at Massachusetts General Hospital. The committee wanted to hear about the electronic health record (EHR) experiences of these specialists in the real-world hospital and office environments - how they implemented and used electronic health records in patient care, measured performance and feedback, and how they used clinical decision support (CDS) systems. The information was solicited to help with their stage 2 and 3 deliberations on meaningful use (MU) objectives. The committee is not obligated to accept any of the proposals or suggestions.

Along with Dreyer, representatives from ophthalmology, pathology, surgery and immunology/allergy/asthma also spoke. Dreyer focused his testimony on imaging data access and exchange, appropriateness criteria-based CDS and the need for specialty-relevant MU measures.

“In terms of how EHRs can facilitate specialty care of patients, what immediately comes to my mind is that patients’ records must provide access to diagnostic images and related data,” Dreyer told the committee. “This access significantly benefits patients by reducing duplicative tests, thus reducing radiation exposure and healthcare costs.”

Dreyer recommended alternative MU criteria for radiologists, which would be more specific to that practice and thus more effective to the program goal.

“EHRs would facilitate specialty care much more efficiently if there were alternative MU measures and EHR certification requirements focused on improving imaging care,” said Dreyer. “CMS should allow radiologists to satisfy specialty objectives instead of other requirements that have no bearing on radiology practices.”