The concept of incentive payments for meaningful use of electronic health records has been around for nearly two years, but it wasn't until the final rule was issued in July that most radiologists became eligible for the program.

Consequently, "The concept of meaningful use and obtaining incentive payments is not something most radiologists are aware of," says David Avrin, M.D., vice chair of informatics and a professor of clinical radiology in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California at San Francisco. Arvin hopes to educate many of his peers when he co-presents a session at RSNA 2010, Nov. 28-Dec. 3 in Chicago.

Radiologists need to learn the rules to qualify for meaningful use, and need to work with their software vendors to ensure their picture archiving and communication systems, radiology information systems and reporting applications are certified as meeting meaningful use requirements, Arvin says. "But if you haven't been following the action, it's hard to get your head around it."

The session will cover basic components of meaningful use for radiology, timelines of the three stages of the program, technical and operational approaches to take, and information technology purchases that may be necessary to be eligible for incentives. These new purchases could include decision support, data mining, image sharing and patient portal applications.

The message Arvin wants to leave with his audience is that there are substantial federal incentives for outpatient practices that invest in information technology. "It's a great way to get the federal government to pay for your I.T. investment."

The session, "IX21, Adding Millions of Dollars to Your Practice Through Meaningful Use," is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 29. More information is available at

--Joseph Goedert


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