Radiologists, Meaningful Use and EHR Incentive Money – Meaningful Use Monday

I recently had someone ask me about radiology and whether they needed to comply with meaningful use and if they qualified for EHR incentive money. Good thing is that I found this Healthcare IT news article that discusses radiology and the EHR incentive money.

Let’s start off with a stat about whether radiologists qualify for the government EHR money.

An estimated 90% of radiologists are eligible for incentive payments from the CMS, according to the American College of Radiology.

I was surprised that the number of radiologists that qualify is so high. So, I guess the simple answer is that yes, almost all radiologists qualify for the EHR stimulus money. Yes, that also means that radiologists will also be subject to the penalties for not being meaningful users of an EHR system.

Although, I guess there has been confusion around whether radiologists qualify for the EHR money. This quote illustrates how widespread this could be:

“Most radiologists seem to believe that they weren’t included in the meaningful use regulations, but the opposite is true,” said Murray Reicher, M.D., DR Systems co-founder and chairman. “The real challenge is meeting the requirements in time to get the largest bonuses — and just as important, to avoid future penalties.”

With that out of the way, the next question is how hard it is for radiologists to meet the meaningful use requirements. I’d love to hear from some radiologists who have either been through the meaningful use stage 1 attestation process or who have looked through the requirements and can point out the meaningful use measures that will be hard for radiologists to achieve. I’m sure there are a number of them that they won’t need to show.

Either way, it’s worth noting that radiologists do qualify for the EHR stimulus money and also could be subject to the future EHR penalties. I wonder how many EHR software vendors work with radiologists.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

14 Comments

  • One of our founders is a radiologist, and based on what he says, I’d be surprised if 10% of the eligible radiologists have even heard the term ‘Meaningful Use.’

  • Hey Matt,
    Thanks for the info. That’s an interesting stat. So, 90% could qualify for the incentives, but 10% have heard about them. I wonder if the penalties will have more influence than the incentives. Most people perk up when you say penalties.

  • Well, he tries to keep things positive, we tend to lead with the stick, not the carrot. 🙂

    I know the article was focused on radiologists, but I’d be a little surprised if any particular subset of specialists were any better informed. I think there’s been a real disconnect in how the information has been presented between them and primary care.

  • If a specialist who is reasonably knowledgeable in their particular field does not know if (or understand how) meaningful use applies to them, how then does CMS determine that MU should apply to them, and how will CMS reason that they should be penalized?

    Devil’s advocate: maybe this is exactly what CMS wants – if you don’t pay attention, you don’t learn, you don’t keep up, you don’t advance in technology – you get punished (at least in Medicare).

    Still though, it seems wrong to punish people who have no grasp of meaningful use, but could otherwise be providing decent care. I guess it shows part of the government’s judgement call that IT makes healthcare better, and that it’s the IT way or the highway.

    I agree with Matt – disconnect!

  • “if you don’t pay attention, you don’t learn, you don’t keep up, you don’t advance in technology – you get punished (at least in Medicare).”

    I totally agree with your dark thoughts on CMS. However, with the major insurers stating that they’re going to effectively mimic the CMS Value Based Purchasing path, it won’t just be Medicare providers taking a hit.

  • I’m a sales rep with an EMR vendor. And yes, I can tell you there is much confusion out there about who is eligible for meaningful use. You’re right Matt, many specialists have never heard the term “Meaningful Use”, and even if they have, it is unlikely they know what it means. I’ve included this link that talks about about a radiology group in New Jersey that has implemented an RIS/EMR system that will allow them to meet meaningful use requirements to qualify for stimulus money. The EMR vendor in this release is a competitor of ours, but I hope this is helpful in the event a radiologist wants to contact this group and find out how they are meeting meaningful use criteria.

  • Thanks Bill. Always great to have resources.

    I’m not sure CMS is as dark as is kind of described above. At least it’s not purposefully that way. Just might be the result of their actions.

    I should go to a local physician organization and poll them to see if your suspicions are correct. Would be interesting.

  • John….I mentioned “meaningful use” to my endodontist (after a root canal!) and he had never heard of it either. He was VERY interested, to say the least. This guy had a very high tech office complete with 3D scans and EMR. Said he was sharing patient info when necessary.

    Wonder how many dentists are eligible.

    Just a thought…..

  • @Joan

    Dentists were included in the stimulus language (>30% Medicaid patients), but CMS has not yet defined exactly what it will take for them to qualify. The rule is supposed to be issued by the end of the year.

  • Joan,
    I think Endodontists probably qualify more than dentists, but some dentists can qualify. From what I’ve heard, it’s really based on how much Medicare or Medicaid they do. The biggest challenge I’ve heard for dentists is finding an EHR for a dental practice that meets the EHR certification requirements.

  • Yes..the issue of certified EHRs is one aspect of meaningful use for dentists. Another aspect would be the outcomes reporting requirements. With general physicians, CMS has spelled that out in the regs. Have they issued reporting requirements for dentists? Certainly some are applicable to dentists, but I would think there is a need for specialty specific reporting.

  • Optometrists and Chiropractors are also eligible for stimulus funds as long as they accept Medicare and (30%) Medicaid. Also, under the Medicaid program Nurse Practitioners qualify to receive stimulus funds.

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