Medical quality assurance stands at the forefront of Germany’s Helios Hospital Group’s expansion plans. Becker’s Hospital Review writes that 18 acute-care German hospitals recently purchased by the group experienced high mortality rates. According to a study in Health Affairs, Helios initiated a medical quality assurance program that significantly reduced these mortality rates.
Emphasizing Medical Quality Assurance
According to the Helios Hospital Group’s website, they rank among the largest and most medically advanced hospital groups in Europe. Since their inception in 1994, the Helios Group placed a strong emphasis on medical quality assurance.
Just like talking with your neighbor over the fence, you build the best relationships face-to-face. Advancements in medical imaging technology, such as PACS, can minimize the face-to-face interaction between radiologists and referring physicians, according to a Health Imaging Hub article. However, a recent study demonstrated that communication between radiologists and clinicians was enhanced when using embedded reading rooms in their facilities.
Communication: The Closer the Better
The Lone Star State now joins California in implementing its own radiation exposure rule, effective May 1, 2013. Establishing acceptable dose thresholds is an important step toward radiology quality assurance and improving patient safety. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the new health code includes guidelines for radiation reporting and training as well. All healthcare providers using fluoroscopy and CT were required to have a radiation program in place by May 1st.
The radiology quality assurance and safety program must:
- Record patient radiation dose on all CT and fluoroscopy exams
Medical imaging usage has slowed down in the last six years due, in part, to declining reimbursements and increasing awareness of medical imaging overutilization. Many point to the recession as another cause behind the decline in diagnostic imaging expenses. The economic recovery could be the silver lining that establishes an upward trend.
As aging baby boomers require more care, and millions of people are added to insurance plans because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, imaging services will be in greater demand. However, it’s not usage alone that will contribute to an increase in studies ordered. Technology plays a part.
For most women having a mammogram, it can be difficult to determine whether the procedure is being conducted via traditional film mammogram or digital mammography. The procedure and appearance of the machine are the same; even the image output is similar.
If you’ve ever worked with celluloid film, you know that there are limitations to what you can actually see based on the quality of the negative. Many variables impact the image. The same is true with medical imaging. Film output vs. digital output has its limitations.
Medical imaging technology has been a target of ongoing efforts to reduce costs while maintaining quality of care. One of the ways in which the medical imaging community, through The American College of Radiology (ACR), is addressing this issue, is by partnering with the Choosing Wisely® campaign to focus on evidence-based guidelines that lead to appropriate use in medical imaging. With 34,000 medical imaging members, including radiologists, radiation oncologists and medical physicists, the ACR has stood at the vanguard of quality and safety efforts in medical imaging and radiation therapy.
Five Tests for Medical Imaging
The use of computerized tomography (CT) has become a concern for doctors and parents of small children because this type of medical imaging exam requires higher doses of radiation. The good news is that new medical imaging software, developed and currently in use only at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, allows doctors to more tightly control radiation doses.
The medical imaging software mathematically determines the lowest possible radiation dose for the patient before a scan is performed, according to David Larson, MD, Radiology Quality and Safety Director at the medical center and principal architect of the technology. Two studies were published recently in the journal Radiology and reported on in ScienceDaily.com, regarding this new technology which showed a 37 percent reduction of radiation exposure from CT scans in children.
Written reports and most of a patient’s medical imaging files will now be available to them at the Cleveland Clinic where they are making electronic medical records (EMRs) far more transparent and accessible online.
MyChart, Cleveland Clinic’s online patient portal, offers patients access to the text portion of their medical imaging report, after-visit summary, medications list, allergies, immunization records, preventive care details and laboratory results. Other medical imaging reports such as MRI, mammogram and ultrasound are being released at the discretion of the ordering physician. The actual medical images are not transmitted through MyChart at this time.
21st century PACS systems are managing massive amounts of specialized medical imaging data and PACS (picture archiving and communication system) must be designed to support health care organizations of all sizes and complexity.
Medical imaging demand and growth is driving a colossal craving for network capacity and data storage.
Gearing up for Mammoth Data
Weighing down most healthcare systems is the administration and cost of storing this immense data created by their PACS. As reported in Healthcare Informatics, New York-based Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), a major academic medical center and cancer research institution, must contend with the enormous increase of electronic data that, for the purpose of patient care and research, needs to be stored over the long term.
What do mattress factories, nuclear plants and the airline industry have in common? They demonstrate a high level of operational efficiency which sets an example for healthcare and peer review. Accountable care is the new reality that is forcing healthcare organizations to concentrate on standardized best practices and to become more efficient at medical peer review. But the healthcare industry is trapped in an old model and accepting innovation is tough.
Mattress Factory Plans for the Unexpected
Not finding answers in their own field, as reported in Health Imaging, some healthcare organizations have stretched their nets further out into other industries to find new blueprints for success.