Rasu Shrestha MD MBA
Saturday February 18, 2012
The legislative carrot seems to be working. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which was part of the 2009 economic stimulus package, incentivized adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) to be used in meaningful ways that would improve clinical care. With up to $44,000 per clinician available over five years through Medicare and $63,750 per physician available over five years through Medicaid, healthcare professionals and hospitals saw the light and went for the carrot! So far, CMS has paid more than $3 billion in incentive payments to over 2,000 hospitals and 40,000 physicians nationwide.
Physician adoption of the EHRs doubled in the past two years! According to new data published by the American Hospital Association, the percentage of U.S. hospitals that had adopted EHRs went from 16% to 35% between 2009 and 2011.
As over 30,000 attendees ready to head to Las Vegas, NV for the 2012 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference & Exhibition, the question on a lot of minds is – what’s next? There will still be much activity around Meaningful Use (Stage 2), and certainly a lot of focus and discussion around ICD-10 (especially given the announcement yesterday that the federal government will delay for an unspecified time the implementation date for the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural coding system). Two other themes resonating across the Venetian Sands Expo Convention Center will also be mobility and the move towards ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). But what about imaging?
While HIMSS is not quite the radiology focused gathering that RSNA (the annual Radiological Society of North America conference) is, many imaging centric vendors are already gearing up for a busy week ahead. This year’s HIMSS conference promises to be more inclusive of imaging – unlike the show last year, when imaging was nearly invisible.
CIOs are beginning to see imaging for its many virtues beyond just the radiology and related ‘ologies’ silos. Interoperability showcases, including cloud-based deployment of imaging will lead much of the discussions around imaging. The technologies on the show floor will also showcase ways to truly image enable your EMR platforms. Executives are now finally starting to ask if images should also be part of Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). The question is, is there enough of a carrot out there to truly incentivize healthcare institutions to embrace imaging and answer the hard questions related to providing access to images beyond the hospital walls?