Radiology HIT Policy Advocacy, Meaningful Use and Interoperability

The following post was contributed by guest blogger Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology IT and Informatics Committee.

The American College of Radiology continues to advocate for improvements to the Medicare/Medicaid EHR Incentive Program (or “Meaningful Use”). Additionally, ACR continues to focus on the proliferation of interoperability through our various health IT policy efforts.

I am proud of our government relations efforts since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to make MU less challenging and more realistic for radiologists, and to enable those without compliance options to avoid penalties for a period of time. And opportunities remain to continue to address participation barriers and to enhance flexibility via future rulemakings.

The College has continuously educated the federal government on areas of need, including additional compliance options, further integration of radiology data into patients’ records, and proliferating interoperability between referring and rendering providers. ACR’s advocacy resulted in various MU victories both big and small over the years, including the concept of non-comprehensive, customizable “certified EHR technology;” the addition of imaging results; enhanced flexibility through new exclusions, clarifications, and guidance changes; and penalty avoidance options for all ACR members who need them. Additionally, the College has regularly partnered with physician and trade associations to communicate the need for radical regulatory framework changes—recommendations we are hopeful will come to fruition over the next 5 years.

Beyond the scope of the EHR Incentive Program, the College successfully advocated to enhance interoperability requirements for hospitals and health systems that “donate” EHR technology to referring providers below cost via the EHR exception/safe harbor from self-referral/anti-kickback prohibitions. The previously insufficient interoperability prerequisites for donated software did not effectively deter hospitals/systems from charging exorbitant fees for connectivity with outside parties, or from otherwise making orders to competitors impossible or unduly burdensome. These anticompetitive practices can now be reported to federal regulators and curtailed through stricter enforcement.

For those who may not be familiar with MU, interoperability, or radiology informatics, these subjects are a key element of ACR2015™ — the inaugural all-member ACR annual meeting in Washington, DC, May 17 – 21, 2015.

I strongly encourage all radiology professionals to attend ACR 2015 and these sessions.

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