For Colorado Springs Radiologists/PENRAD Imaging (Colorado Springs, Colorado), state-of-the-art imaging equipment and IT solutions have long supported a mission to offer top-tier patient care while maintaining a high degree of efficiency overall. A recent move to support this mission by replacing its RIS and billing systems has led the practice to the brink of Stage 1 meaningful use Stage 1 attestation, slated to occur shortly after January 1, 2014.
Colorado Springs Radiologists/PENRAD Imaging operates four outpatient-imaging centers in a joint venture with the Centura Health (Englewood, Colorado) hospital system. The 20-radiologist practice also provides inpatient image-interpretation services to two local hospitals, Penrose Hospital and Penrose-St. Francis Hospital, according to Douglas L. Gibson, CEO.
In 2012, it became clear to Gibson and his colleagues that the group’s RIS and billing systems were no longer sufficiently functional to suit its needs. A decision to replace both of these with technology that had been fully qualified and certified for meaningful use was quickly made and subsequently vetted by the board of directors.
“We figured that if we were going to invest in state-of-the-art RIS and billing solutions, then why not choose options that would qualify us for meaningful use incentive funds we could use to offset the purchase price? We knew that attestation would take work, but the prospect of financial return from the incentives was very attractive.”
—Douglas L. Gibson, CEO
To simplify matters as much as possible, a request for proposal (RFP) issued in the late summer of 2012 included the requirement that systems be fully qualified and certified for meaningful use. Those with even a single module that had not been designated as such were eliminated from consideration, based on the belief that linking and interfacing various modules from different vendors to create a completely qualified configuration would be an excessively expensive, overly complex endeavor.
Toward the same end, a timetable for pursuing attestation was created and finalized. The schedule stipulated going live with the RIS and billing systems as of early September 2013, prior to beginning to collect data for attestation (October 1, 2013) and following site visits to evaluate the technology (Fall 2012), final system selection (November 2012), and the receipt of board signoff on the project (December 2012). Staff training on the systems was set for February through August 2013.
Allocating six months for training and approximately four months between going live with the technology and the date of attestation would, decision-makers believed, allow plenty of time to resolve glitches and change data collection courses if necessary.
Technology Is Key
Colorado Springs Radiology/PENRAD Imaging looked at four or five different systems that had been certified for meaningful use, eventually selecting Synapse® RIS from FUJIFILM Medical Systems USA. The system was chosen in large part for its compatibility with Synapse ® PACS, which had already been implemented by the practice and Centura Health alike. Synapse RIS is integrated with Synapse® Financials, a billing solution that incorporates IMAGINEradiology™ technology from Technology Partners Inc, Charlotte, NC.
Notes Gibson, “Compatibility with our PACS, in other words, how closely it integrated, rather than merely interfaced with, our RIS and Centura’s was a major selling point for us, as was FUJIFILM representation on Penrad’s board. Our attestation strategy was such that if we were going to go through with it, we didn’t want to replace our RIS and billing systems for the next 10 years. We saw the compatibility and integration as insurance that this wouldn’t happen.”
That the billing software had been specifically designed to work with Synapse RIS and to function as an outpatient billing system constituted another factor in its favor; a mere adaptation of an inpatient billing system to serve as an outpatient billing solution would have been inadequate for the group’s purposes and may have complicated its attempts at attestation, Gibson states. He adds, “We also found that Imagine was in use by a number of third-party outpatient billing companies and concluded that if it was good for them, it would be good for us.”
Planning and Collecting
Once the technology decision was finalized, a team led by Gibson and inclusive of several of the practice’s directors (IT, clinical,