Is More Medical Imaging Regulation Coming?


medical imaging regulationMedical imaging – with the exception of breast imaging – has been less regulated than most other healthcare procedures. But that’s likely to change soon.

According to Matthew Morgan, M.D., assistant professor of radiology at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, medical imaging professionals need to be ready to adapt. “A doctor with old habits and perceptions will have a chance to see where he or she could get lost in the future if they don’t make changes,” he says in a recent article in Health Data Management.

Increased medical imaging regulation will be driven primarily by the following:

  • Financial Necessity. Even if the new Accountable Care Organizations don’t work out, it’s likely that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), states, and even private insurers will gradually move toward a global payment system. This will mean greater scrutiny on the frequency and value of medical imaging procedures – along with all other medical procedures.
  • Safety Concerns. Radiation exposure has been a hot topic in the medical imaging community over the past few years, but many medical imaging professionals still don’t consider past radiation exposure when ordering and performing new procedures.
  • Communication Demands. Again, it’s likely that more and more health care organizations will begin operating like ACOs, which means more and more integration of medical imaging with patient care. Medical imaging professionals will need to get better about communicating imaging results in ways that health care professionals without a medical imaging background can understand quickly.

It’s easy to think that health care reform legislation is driving the demand for more medical imaging regulation. The bigger driver, many would say, is the incredible leaps in information technology in the past 10 years. Before then, it simply wasn’t possible to move information around fast enough to hope for seamless medical imaging integration or easily available metrics on radiation dosage. Now it is, and more changes – especially those associated with hand-held devices – will be demanded soon.

One thing is abundantly clear: more demands – legal and otherwise – will be made on medical professionals than ever before.



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