You've no doubt heard the U.S. federal program to encourage use of electronic health records (EHRs). The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are offering payment incentives for physicians and hospitals to make "meaningful use" of EHRs and related health information technology (HIT) according to a defined set of measures.
The definition and implementation of these measures began in 2011 and is scheduled to be complete by 2016. Radiologists and radiology departments need to evaluate how they will participate and begin preparing to meet the final requirements. Find some inspiration in these articles from RadioGraphics and Radiology.
In general, "Meaningful Use" simply means using technology to improve patient care. For radiologists, using EHRs and related HIT systems can:
Purchasing HIT and imaging systems that comply with IHE profiles ensures that they work together more effectively, supporting data integrity, efficient workflows and seamless communication of information among systems and users. IHE profiles specify standard data for-mats for health records, standard transactions between systems and standard methods for maintaining the privacy and security of health information.
Systems that comply with relevant IHE profiles are able to meet the critical meaningful use requirements that clinical results are stored as structured data and that they can be made available to patients and other physicians.
Reporting templates provided by RSNA meet the most rigorous definitions of structured data. They enable better-organized radiology reports that allow information to flow seam-lessly between systems and make imaging results an integral component of the patient's electronic health record.
Underlying the report templates is RadLex, a standardized vocabulary of medical imaging terminology. The use of RadLex terms eliminates ambiguity for readers of the report—including referring physicians and computer systems that mine report data to analyze health outcomes and assess effectiveness. This rich source of information enables complying with key requirements of Meaningful Use, such as the ability to provide lists of patients with specific health conditions.
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RSNA is working with leading institutions in a project funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) to replace problematic films and CDs with an online system for sharing image and reports. It uses a system much like online personal banking to give patient's control over their medical images and who they permit to access them. It enables radiologists to meet the foundational requirement of Meaningful Use: to provide patients with an electronic copy of their medical information.
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