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Regardless of whether providers host their own imaging systems on-premises, they are responsible for ensuring imaging information is available to their patients. A piece of meaningful use stage 2 criteria specifies that physicians who perform one of more than 100 tests that result in the creation of a medical image are required -- as part of their meaningful use reporting period objectives -- to share the resulting images with their patients. This requirement also means that certified EHR technology must facilitate the data exchange of at least 10% of all imaging tests or scans, such as X-rays and MRIs.
Some specialists, such as orthopedists, work with two different systems in which patients' electronic health information resides. One is their certified EHR technology (CEHRT) system, and the other is their medical imaging system, which could be a picture archiving and communication (PACS) system. Some providers set up integration between the two systems to help meet the image sharing requirements put forth by meaningful use stage 2 criteria. Others use Web-based solutions, such as portals for patients that integrate with their medical imaging systems and allow patients to view their medical images online.
Sharing medical images presents a significant challenge for those physicians who don't host their own PACS system and instead rely on outside entities for image delivery and storage. For example, some practices send patients to imaging centers for tests, then the results are made available remotely. Physicians who go this route need to set up a way for their systems to download the remotely hosted information and make it available for their patients.
At first glance, the imaging sharing requirements included in meaningful use stage 2 criteria may seem challenging to accomplish. But there are existing imaging standards that set a baseline for system interoperability. Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine and Health Level 7 International standards have been in use for many years. Also, many CEHRT vendors offer access to view and process medical imaging.
About the author:
Reda Chouffani is vice president of development with Biz Technology Solutions Inc., which provides software design, development and deployment services for the healthcare industry. Let us know what you think about the story; email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact @SearchHealthIT on Twitter.
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