October 2017 News from the ACR and Beyond
Just a Call Away
Radiologists in North Carolina send a weekly email to referring providers, letting them know when each radiologist is working and at what extension he or she can be reached each day. The effort increases communication between radiologists and referring clinicians for enhanced patient care. This case study is part of a new series called Imaging 3.0 NOW, which highlights simple initiatives radiology practices can implement immediately to jumpstart or advance their Imaging 3.0® efforts.
Delivering on Patient-Focused Intentions in Radiology?
Radiologists may not be practicing what they preach when it comes to their role in health care, suggests results from a survey published in Radiology. Results showed a gap between what radiologists thought was important and what they are actually doing on things, such as being available to patients for questions immediately after procedures and exams. For example, 71 percent of respondents said this was important, but only 49 percent said their practice made someone available post-exam to answer patient questions.
“Although a large majority of the radiologists in our survey believed in the importance of promoting awareness of the radiologist’s role in health care and of being available for questions immediately after a patient’s imaging study or procedure, only a minority of these radiologists’ practices are implementing measures to achieve these goals,” according to the study’s authors, led by Jennifer L. Kemp, MD.
Predicting Appointment No-Shows
A team from the radiology department at Massachusetts General Hospital says information available in patients’ electronic medical records can help predict no-show visits (NSVs). A study published in JACR® used data from more than 54,000 scheduled patient radiology examination appointments at a large academic medical center. The goal was to determine if information available in a patient’s electronic medical record can be instrumental in successfully predicting NSVs in radiology. Accurately predicting NSVs could have a significant impact on costs and quality of care. A patient’s employment status, speaking English as a primary language, and distance traveled to an appointment were not found to be significant predictors. One goal of the research is to provide imaging groups with insight when scheduling future appointments.
Imaging Is Critical in Diagnosing Male Infertility
Scrotal ultrasound and MRI have become the preferred modalities, overtaking more invasive testing procedures, when it comes to diagnosing male infertility, according to a review published in RadioGraphics. The report notes that male infertility is a factor in about 50 percent of cases where there is an inability to conceive. Imaging can help effectively identify the grouping of fertility disorders a patient falls into and “can also be used to guide methods for impregnating the female partner, such as sperm aspiration from the epididymis, seminiferous tubules followed by in vitro fertilization, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection,” wrote lead author Pardeep Mittal, MD, with Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga.
RSNA Posts Vignette on Communicating Bad News
The Radiological Society of North America’s Professionalism Committee has developed a series of free educational vignettes on ethics and professionalism covering a range of topics that radiologists may need to address in their practices. The newest professionalism vignette, “Communicating Bad News,” is available at RSNA.org/Professionalism. It offers radiologists tips on how to better communicate, especially with patients for whom there is bad news to deliver. All vignettes are intended to raise awareness about the need for radiologists to incorporate professionalism into their standard practice and to foster open discussion.
Considering Teleradiology Services
Radiologists looking to use a teleradiology service for image reviews should consider cost, quality, and subspecialty expertise. But there are less obvious considerations too, according to Sandy Coffta, vice president of client services at Healthcare Administrative Partners. How might using an outside service impact the practice’s relationship with its hospital and network of referring physicians, for example? And there are Medicare billing issues for teleradiology services to think about. The expense-versus-benefits ratio is different from practice to practice.
Primary Care Docs Feel Unprepared to Have Screening Talks
For primary care physicians, broaching the subject of mammography screening with women under the age of 50 may be a challenge. A study published online in the Journal of Women’s Health surveyed 612 primary care providers and received 220 responses to a variety of breast-screening questions. Most respondents (83%) believed that shared decision-making for mammography was a good idea, as recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which does not encourage women to get a mammogram at age 40, as many other groups do. The USPSTF recommends mammography screening at age 50, then every other year until age 74. The majority of doctors surveyed (77%) spent less than five minutes with patients talking about breast screening, and only 10 percent said they had “key mammography knowledge and felt competent” in talking to women about their breast health. “To effectively engage younger women in shared decision-making for mammography, providers must have accurate knowledge of screening benefits and harms, [have] adequate time to discuss screening with patients, and feel competent at doing so,” study authors wrote
Patient-Facing Dataset Updated to Meet CMS Standards
Radiologists trying to determine if they would be designated as patient-facing by CMS now have access to an updated Radiologist Patient-Facing Dataset (RPFD). The Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute® (HPI) updated the resource, which also allows practices to look up all the radiologists in their practice to determine if they are likely to be exempt under the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) group reporting option. “Because CMS is using 2017 data for this determination, having the most recent CMS data available in the RPFD will allow radiologists to prepare if they are close to the patient-facing threshold,” said Danny R. Hughes, PhD, HPI senior director for health policy research and senior research fellow. This, he says, can help radiologists be prepared and succeed under evolving payment models.
Who Are You Nominating?
It’s time again to submit your nominations for the 2018 ACR positions. The following are among the open positions:
• Vice president
• Four positions on the Board of Chancellors
• Four positions on the Council Steering Committee
• Three positions on the College Nominating Committee
• One private-practice representative to the 2018 Intersociety Summer Conference