To truly stay up-to-date on the latest developments in radiology, imaging clinicians need to follow two levels of discourse. First, there are the on-the-ground, day-to-day issues that arise in the practice, including breakthroughs in types of imaging and study results. Second, there are the bigger-picture discussions taking place in the profession as a whole.
This month’s roundup captures a snapshot of ongoing conversations on both levels. Read on to learn about challenges just on the horizon, ground-breaking studies, and discussions on governance and dosage-reduction campaigns.
For health systems, the new year–and a new challenge–comes early. On October 1, the moratorium on new ICD-10 codes were lifted. Nearly 2,000 new codes have come into play, and many of them will affect radiology departments.
According to author Donna Richmond (BA, RCC, CPC), the new codes come with an end to using non-specific codes as an acceptable practice. Radiologists may find using non-specific codes affects disbursement, particularly in breast cancer findings.
Read the full article for an analysis of the new codes and responsibilities, and how they could affect radiologists in their day-to-day practice.
As radiology departments grow and integrate further with the health system, the current style of department leadership will need to change. That’s the point Cheri Canon, MD made during a session at the RLI Leadership Summit this year, and Health Imaging’s Don Pearson presents her key findings in this article.
Canon says that academic radiology departments have historically been led by a “somewhat benevolent dictator,” a model that leads to paralysis in a more integrated, complex system.
There are six key changes in mindset that radiology leaders will need to make, Canon says, to make flexible, intelligent decisions that use the department as a resource. The first step is to move from expecting most decisions you make in a leadership role will be correct, to assuming that many will require course correction and consultation.
A new study from the University of California, Davis examines the last 15 years of cancer diagnoses in the state in order to assess the efficacy of cancer screening. Kate Madden Yee, writing for AuntMinnie.com, reports on the results of the study.
The results show that late-stage diagnoses for breast cancer decreased during the time period covered (1999-2013). At the same time, late-stage diagnoses for cervical, prostate, and oropharyngeal cancers increased.
The study’s senior author, IPHI Director Dr. Kenneth Kizer, characterized the results this way: “We have effective screening tests for several cancers…However, too many Californians are not getting screened.”
A study of 57 military veterans who were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury (MBTI) shows that a type of MRI scan may be able to predict their post-deployment outcomes.
The scan, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), detects abnormalities in the brain through measurements of water movement, particularly in the white matter. Researchers found that while the brains looked normal on conventional MR scans, DTI measurements were able to predict the extent to which veterans would utilize health care after deployments.
Says Jeffrey B. Ware, MD, who initiated the study, “Our findings suggest that differences in white matter microstructure may partially account for the variance in functional outcomes among this population.”
The pediatric radiation-reduction campaign Image Gently is in the crosshairs of a debate within the pediatric radiology community, Health Imaging’s Dave Pearson reports. Interestingly, both sides of the debate would like to see the campaign phased out, but for different reasons.
Some radiologists claim that these attempts to reduce the risk of cancer from radiation dosage in CT scans harm more than help. Mervyn Cohen, MD, points out that research has failed to show a link between increased cancer risk and CT that exceeds the risk of daily living. Says Cohen, “Radiologists have many more important issues and challenges to deal with than CT and cancer.”
On the other side, the Image Gently Alliance’s Donald Frush, MD agrees that there are other aspects of quality patient outcomes than just monitoring dosage. However, Frush contends there is still work for the Image Gently Alliance to accomplish, in promoting consistent quality of care and judicious use of imaging. Says Frush, “my mission [is] to make Image Gently unnecessary…but we are not there yet. This consensus and valued calling must continue.”
The future of radiology–the future of health care–changes every minute of every day. To keep evolving, health systems and radiology departments alike must focus on the goals that drive them forward: Greater efficiency, greater effectiveness, and improved patient outcomes.
For more insight on evolving health care to meet present and future challenges, download 15 Insights to Managing Quality Outcomes.