Tax identification numbers can be problematic also, particularly if a practice has recently been purchased by the hospital, Sunderman says. Work out as many of these problems as you can before it is time to attest, he urges.
He also recommends reading the meaningful use rules in the Federal Register.
“It’s painful, and I know you can find summaries from lots of people, but because there is flexibility and room for interpretation in the rules, you may find that you can interpret something in a better way for you,” Sunderman says.
For University Radiology Group in Hillsborough, NJ, whose 60 physicians perform about 300,000 procedures per year, the biggest challenge was the additional work foisted on front desk personnel and technologists, says CIO Alberto Goldsval, PhD.
“For instance, we had to ask additional questions for part of the clinical quality measures. Have you had your pneumococcal vaccination? When was your last vaccination for pneumonia? Do you smoke?” he says. “These were questions that radiologists never had to ask before, and this fell on the front desk or the technologists. We worried that this would change our work flow and increase the time spent for imaging each patient.”
The radiology practices were able to incorporate the additional information gathering without significantly slowing the work process, Goldsval says, but the experience showed that some providers will have to take on unfamiliar tasks to prove meaningful use.
“The data gathering is a central part of attesting to stage 1 meaningful use, and not all of it can be mined from existing information,” he says. “Some of it must be actively obtained from the patient, and for some practices this will be an addition to their normal operations.”
This article appears in the December 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.