Radiologist: Meaningful Use, radiology are 'part and parcel' to one another

Leonard Berlin, Skokie (Ill.) Hospital radiologist: Patients deserve access to their records
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Meaningful Use and radiology are "part and parcel" to one another, particularly given the increased push to allow patients to see health records and lab results on demand, says Leonard Berlin (right), a radiologist at Skokie (Ill.) Hospital and a professor of Radiology at Rush University and the University of Illinois, Chicago. According to Berlin, who gave one of two orations at the Radiological Society of North America's recent annual conference in Chicago, there's no question that the two are intertwined.

"Patients deserve access to their records, and it's only in the last decade or so where there's been a movement to say the contrary is not right," Berlin told FierceMedicalImaging in an exclusive interview. "There's a definite movement from physician-centered care to patient-centered care."

In addition to Meaningful Use's place in the medical imaging world, Berlin talked about his oration--delivered in its entirety in rhyming verse--focused on medical error disclosure.

FierceMedicalImaging: How will radiologists continue to adapt to Meaningful Use?

Berlin: I think ultimately it's a learning curve. Many radiologists currently feel that it's very inconvenient and a pain in the neck. On the other hand, it's the future; there's no doubt about it.

Right now, I don't think there's any evidence that electronic health records have decreased errors, but we have to intuitively believe that they will. There are little glitches and problems that probably will occur for the next few years, but those have to be overcome. We just have to grow with it.

FMI: What are the legal challenges to talking to patients about their results as the industry continues to become more digitized?

Berlin: I'm not sure there are too many challenges. While we all have to be aware of the HIPAA regulations, when it comes to a specific relationship between patient and doctor, HIPAA doesn't really present a problem. I don't know anyone who's ever been sued for saying too much to a patient.

I know some radiologists who are apprehensive about talking to patients [about results received directly], but for me, I don't subscribe to that.

FMI: How did you decide on the poetic nature of your 22-minute oration? How long did it take you to compose the speech?

Berlin: I wanted to do something different. No one has ever done that before. I was notified back in January that I was going to give the oration, and when I started collecting articles about the topic, at first I was going to write a regular speech. Then I thought, "What am I going to do, write the same things other people have written?" So I decided to try something different. I figured that if people didn't remember what I said, at least they'd remember how I said it.

I'd been working on the darn thing for 11 months. What you heard was about the 17th version.

Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.