Talk about identity crises, radiology is having a big one.
For years, healthcare organizations have invested billions of dollars in upgrading imaging operations, which now offer incredible capabilities to examine patients and support clinicians in diagnosing medical conditions.
Imaging procedures have been revenue generators for healthcare organizations; any information technology that enabled radiologists to handle more procedures thus increased profits.
No longer, or at least not much longer. Value-based care is turning incentives for imaging upside down. Under risk contracts, healthcare organizations receive a set amount for the care of a group of patients, and dollars that may be needlessly spent on imaging can't be used to cover patient care costs. Clearly, it's time for imaging to become more efficient and to directly benefit the caregiving process.
Our cover story in this issue by John Morrissey (page 16) describes how analytics is being applied in imaging. Some capabilities help to improve image visualization, and progress is being made in computer-assisted diagnosis for well-defined tasks in certain disciplines, such as mammography, lung cancer screenings and the diagnosis of coronary stenosis.
However, the technology still has trouble approaching a radiologist's eye and brain for computational intricacy. Other barriers include PACS that are not technologically advanced enough to handle the interpretive software, and the inability to integrate such analytical capabilities into radiologists' workflow.
Another poster child for the evolution to value-based care is providers' increasing involvement in population health. Technology is helping to segment populations so providers are better able to focus resources on groups of patients who have similar needs, reports Elizabeth Gardner in her story on page 22. Providers are understanding the importance of collecting and incorporating a wide range of patient information-from the quality of family support services to patients' ability to use public transportation or access nutritious food-in keeping patients healthy and heading off patient encounters in expensive care settings.
Another result of trying to restrain overall healthcare costs is the growing movement to provide care in less expensive settings. Healthcare reimbursement reform is raising interest in, and patient visits to, urgent care centers, says Joseph Goedert in an article that starts on page 26. The number of urgent care centers is growing, and they provide care at a price that is lower than that of a visit to a hospital's emergency department. Urgent care centers are at various stages in their transition to digital health records, with many moving to non-paper approaches to sharing patients' encounter information.
Information technology continues to play a foundational role in supporting the healthcare industry as reimbursement incentives bring quantum changes to providers, payers and consumers.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Health Data Management content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access