TRUMBULL, Conn., March 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Supported by the MedInformatix Radiology Information System (RIS), Advanced Radiology Consultants, LLC, maintains its leading edge in the federal effort to improve the quality of patient care through wider use of electronic health records. The practice was one of the first two radiology practices nationwide to satisfy Stage 1 Meaningful Use objectives and the first in Connecticut to install a Patient Portal on the software platform that lets patients retrieve their records electronically. The practice is now one of the few collecting a year's worth of patient data to demonstrate "meaningful use" of certified technology for the second consecutive year.
A provision of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the Meaningful Use initiative provides incentive bonuses to physicians using certified technology to collect and track patient data. Radiologists who attested starting in 2012 are eligible to receive up to $44,000 in incentive bonuses over five years. Those who fail to comply by 2015 face penalties, according to rules set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
For radiologists, the federal government ties incentive payments to the quantity of images read annually and all but one of Advanced Radiology Consultants' (ARC) 31 radiologists met requirements in 2012. The practice attested for only a 90-day period as required when it began the first phase of the project in 2011.
One of the first MU-certified software platforms, MedInformatix RIS with EHR Version 7.5, assists ARC in producing a data matrix that includes patient demographic and ethnic data, drug-to-drug interactions, allergies and active medications, as well as computerized imaging order entries. The Patient Portal satisfies the requirement to provide clinical summaries to patients and appointment reminders and gains more users from the practice each year. Patients can review imaging procedures and data collected during visits, and read radiologist reports from their own web browsers.
The practice plans to install a zero-footprint feature, which would allow patients to view images taken during visits as well. That will make it easier for them to share information with physicians in different states or with those unable to access a CD of images. "It's going to provide better access to the data for physicians and patients alike to help them make better decisions about their healthcare. CDs can get lost or damaged in transit. Online access assures our patients and their doctors that they have access to the images when they need it most," said Chris Craft, the practice's Chief Information Officer.
The practice documents all patient medication using MedInformatix, insuring a higher level of patient safety than in the past. Technologists used to ask patients whether they were taking medications that would preclude imaging procedures that used certain contrast dyes.Now, staff inputs all medications patients take for allergies or other conditions and the RIS checks for contraindications.
"If a patient has a severe reaction or otherwise has to be transported to an emergency room, we can provide a list of all the patient's medications to emergency medical service workers and physicians," said Shawn Dapp, ARC's Operations Manager and Project Lead. "Under those circumstances, patients are nervous. They are scared. They don't need to think about a medication list or even insurance information because the system captures that."
The benefits of entering patient information once into the RIS and having it automatically filled on to any number of patient documents previously completed by hand cannot be overstated. Patients spend less time at the practice. Staffers avoid asking redundant questions. Mistakes, omissions and delays, rife in paper-driven processes, are virtually eliminated.
The practice's MU reporting requirements vary based on the particular measure. Some measures require data to be reported for 80 percent of patients; others, 40 percent. However, the practice strives to meet a self-imposed standard of 100 percent: "If we have policies and procedures in place, we want to follow them. The idea is to not just to collect the data because the government said so. We are collecting the data to improve process and ultimately, improve patient care," Craft said.
Toward that end, the MedInformatix RIS streamlines a host of work duties, including insurance verification and patient data exchange, through the following additional features and capabilities:
- Customization: The system can be easily modified by adding or removing data fields to any screen to adapt to workflow needs and to tailor reports. For example, staffers spread the added responsibility of gathering patient responses to MU-related questions across different functions without having patients tarry at the front desk. Some questions appear on a pre-exam survey; others are asked by phone.
- Work Lists: The system lists tasks and priorities by job function, differentiating work performed by a CT technologist and a mammography technologist,for example, and records frequency of use of different imaging modalities.
- Physician Portal: The system allows referring physicians to check patient status and receive imaging reports according to their delivery preferences, and compile data on all patients seen at ARC over a block of time.
- Transition of Care Summary: The system transmits patient reports from ARC to physicians handling follow-up care in nursing homes or other practices.
In the wake of radiology reimbursement cuts, the practice has charted potential growth areas as a result of the "data-rich" MedInformatix platform. The practice performs radiology, fluoroscopy, mammography, ultrasound, MRI, CT scan and nuclear medicine procedures from seven offices in southern Connecticut, as well as Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent's Medical Center."We are collecting more data and better data, and that means we can focus on areas we may not have been focusing on previously," Craft said.
MedInformatix, Inc. (www.medinformatix.com) is a leading national provider of fully integrated Electronic Health Records. The products have been built around MedInformatix's 25 years of workflow expertise. MedInformatix's suite of products is designed on a single database using Microsoft SQL. Whether the client is a single physician who went live in 1994, a 13-location cardiology practice, the busiest radiology practice in Manhattan, or one of 15 other serviced specialties, MedInformatix accommodates their needs. MedInformatix can turn the dream of a paperless, integrated practice into a reality.
MedInformatix Version 7.5 is now certified to meet 2011-2012 criteria supporting Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) as a Complete EHR by the Drummond Group.
This Complete EHR is 2011/2012 compliant and has been certified by an ONC-ATCB in accordance with the applicable certification criteria adopted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This certification does not represent an endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or guarantee the receipt of incentive payments.
MedInformatix, October 22, 2010, Version 7.5, 1022201024238, Clinical Quality Measures: NQF0013, NQF0421, NQF0041, NQF0024, NQF0028, NQF0038, NQF0059, NQF0061, NQF0064. Additional software used: TrueCrypt v2.0, email software, spreadsheet software.