Maximizing Imaging Value
Although health systems have been adopting electronic medical records because of financial incentives and meaningful use criteria, the utilization of that information can vary widely on a day-to-day basis.
Structured reporting represents the ideal, the ability for patient data, test and scan results, diagnosis information and more to flow among systems in a way that this information can easily be reviewed. Physicians and cardiologists should have access to the right information at the right time and in the right format so they can make the correct diagnosis and guide patient care with confidence.
Radiology is in a time of transition. From moving toward value-based reimbursement models to focusing on patient-centered care, professionals working in the radiology department are experiencing an era of change throughout the industry. Radiologists are being called upon to take proactive steps to prove their value like never before.
In this time of change, RSNA President Ronald L. Arenson, M.D., FACR, is looking at the year ahead. In this Q&A, he discusses how radiology can adapt to complex changes, including value-based care models and continued efforts to contain costs.
Healthcare leaders are barraged with daily demands. Perhaps it’s assessing whether new staff is needed, digging into financial reports, creating strategies for shifting to value-based reimbursement or working to secure market share.
But as they juggle numerous tasks, healthcare leaders should care about diagnostic imaging solutions. Why? Diagnostic imaging solutions help improve workflow, support improvements to patient care and help organizations meet regulations.
Diagnostic imaging solutions can support improvements to workflow by bridging communication gaps. Workflow intelligence platforms can be customized per an organization’s priorities. For example, a department might opt to build a workflow based on radiologists’ specialties and locations to optimize sub-specialists’ expertise.
Many healthcare organizations are focusing on population health management strategies as they prepare to transition to value-based care models. It is predicted that within 10 years, half of all healthcare payments will be value-based. Population health management tactics are crucial as organizations focus on improving the health of certain patient groups, since 5 percent of the population accounts for half of healthcare spending.
Every medical department will be analyzed for the ways it can support population health management, including radiology departments. Diagnostic imaging solutions are crucial tools, collecting data for insight into trends, alerting physicians to significant findings and facilitating communication between physicians.
Within 10 years, it’s estimated that 50 percent of healthcare payments made will be value-based. As more health systems transition to value-based care models, leaders are seeking ACO support, tools and information. Radiologists are determining how to best prove their value in an ACO model as well.
Radiology leaders and team members may not realize that their medical imaging software is a tool that can provide valuable insight and ACO support, from tracking follow-up care to looking at complications data. Here are functions that Qualitative Intelligence & Communication System (QICS™) workflows can perform to offer ACO support.
The movement of healthcare delivery from fee-for-service to value-based payments has hit every segment of the industry, and imaging is certainly no exception. Every test is scrutinized for appropriateness with consideration being given to cost of the imaging studies as well as potential for radiation exposure with some of the imaging modalities.
Those measures are reasonable to help safeguard patients and reduce the incidence of unnecessary imaging, which has been estimated at $12 billion annually in the U.S.
Patients who live in rural areas face significant health disparities when compared to the general population. From higher rates of disease to lower life expectancies, higher rates of pain and suffering to fewer physicians, rural healthcare has a number of considerable challenges. Solutions that help improve the delivery of care in rural areas are highlighted in the following medical imaging case studies. These real-world examples depict how technology can help reduce report turnaround, provide high-tech services in rural areas and support improvements to patient care.
Case Study #1 | Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Omaha
When we study dramatic failures like those that bring down power lines, we usually discover multiple issues. It’s the same with imaging — numerous forces have combined to decrease profitability, including saturated markets, a more complex patient population and declining reimbursement.
In her webinar, “2014 Imaging Market Outlook,” Sruti Nataraja of The Advisory Board Company takes a comprehensive look at all the factors contributing to imaging’s current state and observes the following:
- We’re getting diminishing returns from traditional growth
- The worst is yet to come with hospital reimbursement cuts
November 8 is International Radiology Day. On the one hand, I think it’s wonderful that there’s a day to recognize the value that diagnostic radiology brings to healthcare and the numerous ways it helps improve quality of care. On the other hand, I believe that radiologists should not sit back on this day thinking about a job well done. Instead, International Radiology Day can be used as a call to action, further emphasizing the value of the work that radiologists do day in and day out.
Admittedly, 100 percent uptime is an unrealistic goal, but we all should hold ourselves to the highest possible standard when patient care and safety are on the line. Business Continuity, in addition to Disaster Recovery or Resiliency Planning, is critical in every area of a hospital.