March: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb?

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 - Lisa Fratt - Portrait
Lisa Fratt, Editor

We’ve seen a winter marked by snowpocalypse and political cacophony that plummeted to new lows. The slightest wisp of thaw seemed to be the air in the wake of the Tucson tragedy, but just as quickly the GOP pulled the rug out with H.R. 2, designed to repeal the “job killing healthcare law.” Without sufficient support in the Senate, the bill won’t pass, but it makes a statement, and coupled with ongoing efforts to chip away at the law, adds to a climate of uncertainty about the future of healthcare reform in this country.

When it comes to the meaningful use element of healthcare reform, radiologists may feel a bit more confused (and slightly left out) compared with their clinical colleagues. Meaningful use has been a roller coaster for rads, who DO qualify for healthy incentives.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is gearing up for Stage 2 requirements and the Health IT Policy Committee (HITPC) set a Feb. 25 deadline for comments on its proposed guidelines. However, it is too early to tell how rads will fare in the next round as HITPC is not expected to release its recommendations for public comment until later this year, or early next year, in preparation for 2013 requirements.

Imaging stakeholders are hopeful that Stage 2 requirements will contain more radiology and imaging specific measures and are emphasizing to the ONC the importance of such measures for the meaningful use of EMRs, shares Keith Dreyer, MD, vice chairman of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Regardless of how the next round plays out, the train is leaving the station and early adopters are on board. They share their insights and goals in this month’s Health Imaging & IT cover story. There is cause for optimism as these pioneers are focusing on integration, communication and improved service in addition to incentive payments. It’s a hot issue, and at TriMed Media, we’ll continue to track the federal minutiae, system certifications and best practices online and in print. If you want to be in the know every business day, sign up for Health Imaging News at HealthImaging.com.

Another blazing hot issue is social media, and we explore its role in the radiology marketing plan. Early data are promising. Practices dedicated to a cohesive social media program are seeing a healthy and demonstrable uptick in mammography and health screenings and solidifying relationships with their patients and communities.

Finally, we contemplate the demise of the lowly image CD. Bolstered by an influx of grant funding, researchers are beginning to untangle the informatics and privacy challenges of next-generation cross-enterprise image exchange. Although the eagerly awaited end of the CD era is years away, it is a change worth contemplating.

Thoughts, questions, comments? Please stay in touch.