Gregory N. Nicola, MD, FACR, ACR Chair Commission on Economics, contributed this post.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that the Educational and Operations Testing Period for the appropriate use criteria (AUC)/clinical decision support (CDS) mandate for all advanced diagnostic imaging services will be extended through Dec. 31, 2021. This decision provides additional time for practices to implement clinical decision support systems, as there are no payment consequences associated with the AUC program during calendar year (CY) 2020 and CY2021. How can your practice prepare?

The American College of Radiology® (ACR®) encourages practices to use this time period to learn, test and prepare for the mandatory start of the AUC program. Thousands of facilities nationwide have already implemented CDS as it has the potential to reduce unwarranted imaging and associated radiation exposure, and make more efficient use of healthcare dollars — a benefit to both providers and patients.

Practices should also know that since the testing period extension was regulated by CMS outside of the rulemaking process, there is no CMS call for comments. However, the ACR will continue to work with CMS and other physician, medical and patient groups regarding CDS implementation, advocating for changing the program to a more streamlined and efficient quality improvement initiative.

By embracing the upcoming AUC/CDS mandate together, we can continue to position radiology as a leader in value-based care. I encourage you to familiarize yourself and your colleagues to take advantage of this extension and become better prepared for, pending no further changes from CMS, implementation in early 2022.

The ACR is committed to keeping members apprised of critical AUC/CDS developments through updates on and in the Advocacy in Action eNews. You can find additional information regarding the AUC mandate on the CMS website.

  • How is your practice preparing for AUC/CDS? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and join the discussion on Engage (login required).

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