Meaningful Use to Undergo Changes
CMS is ready to revamp the MU program. What does this mean for radiologists?
The radiology community was all abuzz when CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt indicated in a recent speech that "the Meaningful Use (MU) program...will now be effectively over.” However, don’t make any moves yet — Slavitt later acknowledged on a CMS blog that MACRA requires that the existing MU standards must still be followed, at least in the early years of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).
Slavitt writes that as CMS moves forward under MACRA, its goals include prioritizing interoperability and allowing flexibility in the customization of EHRs. This will allow radiology to customize their information technology to meet the needs of their individual practice. These are encouraging developments for the imaging community. Enabling easier access for vendors through more open application program interfaces (APIs) enhances the potential for meaningful innovation.
The goal of interoperability of information, such as imaging examinations, is certainly laudable and long overdue. However, this will require buy-in from the hospital systems and better technology to enable this shift.
Professionals who are not in compliance with meaningful use currently receive a negative payment adjustment. Radiologists have an exemption from MU from 2015 through 2019, assuming their Medicare Provider Enrollment, Chain and Ownership System (PECOS) specialty code identifies them as a Diagnostic Radiology (code 20). Therefore, most radiologists will not be immediately affected. However, since MIPS will begin affecting payments in 2019, 2018 is expected to be the performance period (the timeframe from which information will be reported). That means radiologists actually have one less year to participate meaning the timeframe for radiologists to get on board is fairly short.
By Ezequiel Silva III, MD, vice-chair of the ACR Commission on Economics