RFS news highlights resources, issues, and news relevant to in-training members of the ACR. If you have a topic idea or would like to contribute to the blog, please email RFS Secretary Patricia Balthazar, MD.
JACR® October Highlights
Developing Quality Measures for Diagnostic Radiologists: Parts 1 & 2
The ACR convened a cross-specialty, multidisciplinary technical expert panel to identify and define new measures for quality improvement. These measures can be included in the ACR's National Radiology Data Registry and potentially used in the CMS quality reporting programs. The technical expert panel was tasked with developing measures that reflect the most rigorous clinical evidence and address areas most in need of performance improvement. The measures described in these articles represent a new phase in ACR's efforts to develop meaningful measures for radiologists that promote population health through diagnostic accuracy, clinical effectiveness, and care coordination. A total of 11 metrics were identified and a “gap analysis” was performed for each to assess the need for implementation of the quality measure in question. Five of these measures focus on clearly defining exam findings and communicating evidence-based follow-up recommendations, four represent efforts to standardize communicated findings, and two are aimed at decreasing unnecessary radiation exposure.
Supporting Imagers’ VOICE: A National Training Program in Comparative Effectiveness Research and Big Data Analytics
The volume of data in radiology and healthcare is exponentially increasing, and healthcare policy is becoming more geared towards the concepts of value, quality, and outcomes. Often, however, those concepts may be difficult to quantify, and physicians generally do not have training in analyzing “big data” through methods such as Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to define cost and outcomes metrics for various interventions and imaging studies. The National Academy of Medicine states that “the purpose of CER is to assist consumers, clinicians, purchasers, and policy makers to make informed decisions that will improve health care at both the individual and population levels.” The Value of Imaging Through Comparative Effectiveness (VOICE) Research Program began as an effort to address some of these gaps in radiologist training and better equip physicians to improve practice guidelines and policy discussions. The program includes five 10-week web-based courses, each of which is followed by a two-day weekend session which must be attended in person. Topics of the five courses cover decision analysis, cost effectiveness analysis, evidence synthesis and systematic review, principles of big data analytics, and applications of big data analytics. In the future, publications resulting from course participants may be shared in a research forum at national radiology conferences.
Improving Professionalism Between Radiology and Emergency Medicine
While professionalism is designated as a core competency of resident training by the ACGME, there is evidence to suggest that professionalism between medical specialties can impact the quality of patient care. At the author’s institution, there were numerous anecdotal reports of unprofessional behavior between the radiology and emergency medicine sections. Faculty from both sections met to brainstorm strategies to address the “professionalism gap” that was occurring. The group issued an anonymous survey to both departments, and three key issues were identified: communication, shared information/protocols, and misconceptions. It was discovered that “shared” repositories of protocol information between both departments contained numerous discrepancies, which were reconciled. Additionally, multidisciplinary grand rounds were held in order to improve the relationship between the two departments, with survey feedback from the first two events being overwhelmingly positive.