I’m continuing to wade through the material from the recent Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting, and I wanted to feature some interesting technology from my discussions. One niche opportunity is from Imaging Elements (http://imagingelements.com/), a company founded by a couple industry veterans, Bob Cooke, formerly of Fuji and Agfa, and Mark Janas, formerly of Empiric. Imaging Elements has zeroed in on making it easy for radiologists to qualify for Meaningful Use payments, particularly radiologists who provide services to multiple entities on multiple platforms.
For physician groups such as radiologists, applying for MU and achieving a CEHRT certified platform implementation can be a challenge. According to Cooke, Imaging Elements’ cloud-based, CEHRT certified EMR platform and the company’s services can enable a radiology group to get up and running quickly, achieving the ninety days of participation in 2013 to qualify before the October, 2013 deadline.
There are a couple intriguing innovations that Imaging Elements has made to achieve this performance. The first is how to easily capture the necessary attestation elements without the need for complex system implementation. Imaging Elements has struck an arrangement with Nuance (http://www.nuance.com/for-healthcare/index.htm) to interoperate with Nuance’s PowerScribe speech recognition application. Since PowerScribe is widely used for dictation, and readily interfaced to a number of information systems, Imaging Elements can piggyback on PowerScribe to obtain the necessary patient order information. Once obtained, a worklist presentation makes it easy to enter required reporting elements and submit reports.
Perhaps more beneficial is Imaging Element’s Denominator Reduction capability. According to Cooke, only a portion of exams handled by radiologists will qualify for MU. To qualify for MU, cases must be where the EP (Eligible Professional) and the patient have an actual physical encounter where the physician renders any service to the patient. Obviously, a chest x-ray does not involve any physical encounter with the patient by the radiologist, whereas an interventional procedure would. Cooke explains that only those qualifying procedures can be counted in the denominator of the formulas used to assess MU qualification for payments.
Imaging Elements has developed rule sets that can be used to evaluate all procedures for acceptance, and insure that only those qualifying are included in the denominator of the reporting formulas, thereby improving the evaluation process and the ratio of qualifying exams.
For the moment, there appears to be little competition, save for DR Systems, which offers its own EMR as part of its radiology product offering. The larger EMR companies are targeted on the larger healthcare providers that have embarked on EMR implementations. But for smaller providers or physician groups that have not implemented an EMR, and have limited information technology (IT) skills, the Imaging Elements approach should be quite attractive. Imaging Elements is capitalizing on the Open EMR initiative (http://www.oemr.org/), but has secured its own certification.
Given the short window of opportunity for Stage 1 (October, 2013 deadline), Cooke noted that there is far more potential, as Stage 2 MU is more inclusive of imaging services, and Stage 3 will present additional opportunities.
For many radiology groups and for smaller healthcare providers looking to participate in MU, the Imaging Elements approach appears to take the pain out of planning, implementing, and managing a solution. From my perspective, the hardest part will be getting the word out fast enough to make a difference! This seems like a no-brainer in taking the hassle out of a very complex process. And, as Cooke so adroitly points out, beginning in 2015, eligible professional (radiologists) who do not successfully demonstrate meaningful use will be subject to a payment (Medicare) adjustment. Sounds like an incentive to get on the bandwagon to me! There is nothing like a little innovation in the face of adversity. Here’s hoping enough radiology practices see the value in Imaging Element’s approach.