As my McKesson colleague Ran Rumianek wrote earlier this week, incredible advances in imaging technologies are everywhere at RSNA’s annual meeting in Chicago. I agree with Ran that diagnostic imaging capabilities that were unimaginable just a short time ago quickly are becoming realities as the huge equipment displays in the exhibition halls here can attest.
Appropriately, though, the conversation among the attendees has shifted over the course of the meeting. It’s shifted from one of wonder to one of wondering about how the advances in imaging technologies will contribute to the industry shift from volume-based care to value-based care.
That question was punctuated with exclamation points by two new government reports out this week:
- The Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research said the rate of hospital-acquired conditions plateaued between 2013 and 2014 at 121 per 1,000 patient discharges after dropping each of the previous three years.
- Meanwhile, HHS said national health care expenditures jumped 5.3 percent in 2014, reaching $3 trillion.
Paying more for the same results is not anyone’s definition of value. We at McKesson believe radiology and radiologists can point both needles in the right direction by combining innovations in imaging technologies with health information technology to produce better outcomes at less cost.
In his Dec. 1 plenary session presentation at RSNA, James Thrall, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital, ran down a list of innovations in imaging technologies that will drive the future of radiology. Included on his list were: Improvements in existing modalities; special, single-purpose devices; complex, multi-purpose devices; and entirely new imaging technologies. He also talked about harnessing the power of health information technology to capture the data from all the new technologies and translating it into useful, actionable information for radiologists to better care for patients.
It’s the latter part of Dr. Thrall’s argument that we believe holds the greatest potential value for the health care industry. New imaging technologies certainly will be able to detect patient illnesses and injuries faster and more accurately than ever before. But getting that information instantly into the hands of radiologists and other clinicians in a format they can use individually and collectively to coordinate patient care is the key.
By doing so, clinicians will be able to make a more precise diagnosis and initiate a more precise course of treatment for individual patients at the earliest possible moment. That will result in better outcomes at less cost. A more accurate diagnosis and more timely treatment will always be cheaper in the long run.
Another way that health IT can drive value in radiology is by integrating and coordinating existing imaging technologies. Rather than buying new technologies, operationally challenged providers can drive more value out of their existing equipment by making it work in concert for clinicians.
We believe radiologists should be at the forefront of this approach to the latest innovations in imaging technologies. By assuming that role, radiologists may be empowered to help improve the care of their own patients and support improvements in their own business health while contributing greatly to a new health care system built on value.
If you are at RSNA today, stop by McKesson Booth 1135 south hall to learn more about our Conserus™ suite of imaging workflow solutions.