Radiologists often end up reading complex imaging studies with little or no patient history. Having access to the ordering physician's progress/consult notes as well as to relevant lab and pathology findings should be the standard of care, according to Dr. Adeel Siddiqui of Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center.
"Meaningful use not only accomplishes this, it gets the government to pay for the upgrade," Siddiqui told AuntMinnie.com.
The final rules for stage 2 of meaningful use exempted radiologists from any penalties related to noncompliance, a drastic change from the previous policy. This led many hospital IT executives to believe that radiologists are not part of meaningful use, and it also led to slow acceptance of the program by radiologists, he said.
Radiologists can still receive incentive payments for participating in the program, however.
It's widely believed that meaningful use will form the foundation for accountable care organizations (ACOs), Siddiqui also noted, and if "radiologists are not involved with their hospital's meaningful use implementation, there is a good chance they will be ignored when ACO committees are set up."
Meaningful use and modern electronic health records (EHRs) also serve as building blocks. Without an EHR, it's difficult to have electronic ordering and e-billing for imaging exams or to have image utilization management, he said.
"Without an EHR, it is [also] impossible to develop specialty-specific filters that modify EHR workflows to suit a particular physician's workflow," he said. For example, an EHR for a surgeon should display data much differently than one for a radiologist, he added.