Meaningful Use & Radiology - Dive In, All Clear

By Jon Mertz
08:59 AM

During the SIIM 2011 Annual Meeting earlier this year, radiology leaders were rallying the industry to engage with the incentive program being driven under the Meaningful Use banner. Although there was uncertainty initially, the regulations clarified how radiologists could be eligible to participate in the HITECH Meaningful Use program. This topic was discussed in an earlier post entitled Radiology Needs to Reassert Their IT Leadership.

Almost six months later, much has remained unchanged, especially as it relates to the radiology industry’s engagement in Meaningful Use. RSNA 2011 is underway, and the concern is still being raised. In fact, RSNA and KLAS teamed up to conduct a survey of 216 radiologists on this topic:  Radiologists’ Take on Meaningful Use: a KLAS-RSNA Report.

Some key statistics from the survey:

  • Nearly 40 percent cited concerns about either the lack of clarity in Meaningful Use guidelines or decreased efficiency as a result of adopting current Meaningful Use guidelines.
  • 60 percent either plan to or are considering qualifying for Meaningful Use.
  • Only 6 percent considered themselves to be educated regarding Meaningful Use.

What this means for radiology groups and practices is very simple, as Emily Crane, KLAS research director, stated:

“These numbers should be a wakeup call for the radiology industry.”

Yes! It is time to wake-up to the changes underway and engage radiology practice leaders, radiology CIOs, and radiologists to ensure they are in sync with the direction of the U.S. heath care system. The Meaningful Use clock is ticking!

To a large extent, this is a leadership issue. A choice to participate or not can definitely be made. However, lacking clarity is not a reason to be stuck in neutral. Business, operational, and IT leaders are faced with uncertain situations all the time, yet they dive in, learn, plan, implement, and adjust.

  • Dive in: Be unafraid. Set aside time. Research the guidelines. Determine if your group or practice should participate in Meaningful Use or not.
  • Learn: Attend conferences, like RSNA and SIIM. Read articles in many of the popular radiology and healthcare news publications.
  • Plan: Based on the previous two steps, build a plan. Whether your organization participates in the Meaningful Use incentive program or not, you will still need a plan. Our health care system is changing, and preparation is required.
  • Implement: After the plan is agreed to, it is time to begin the work. Measure the work. Measure the results.
  • Adjust: Based on the measured results and the program changes, modify your plans and incorporate the adjustments into the implementation work.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: Radiologists, IT professionals, operational managers, etc. — we all need to know what the plan is, how well the results are being achieved, and what adjustments are required. Communicate frequently and completely.

There is little mystery to Meaningful Use Stage 1 criteria or the general direction of the incentive program. Information is readily available. It is time to engage, decide, and move forward.

To get started, outlined below are some resources to consider:

RSNA 2011 is serving as another wake-up call. Radiologists, as well as the radiology business and IT teams, need to lead by first understanding Meaningful Use and then determining their response.

Radiology delivers such an essential and vital service to current and future patients, so it is time to be actively engaged in the changes underway.


Jon Mertz currently serves as the vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. His experience consists of a unique industry mix of healthcare software, IT infrastructure, sales & marketing consulting, and government. Jon has led several marketing organizations, conducting market research, developing customer programs, and working with partners to deliver complete customer solutions. Past companies and organizations include Deloitte, IBM, BMC Software, US Senate, and US Department of Commerce. He blogs at