A High-Tech Exchange

Imaging professionals from across the nation convene for the 2013 ACR Annual Imaging Informatics Summit & Data Registries Forum.58798000 thumbnail

Radiologists searching for insight about everything from image sharing to the ACR Dose Index Registry® found what they were looking for at the 2013 ACR Annual Imaging Informatics Summit & Data Registries Forum.

The conference attracted imaging professionals from across the country who were eager to learn about trends in the field and exchange information about existing and emerging technologies. Representatives from more than a dozen vendors also attended the event, setting up booths and giving presentations to showcase their products.

The fluid program allowed participants to focus on either the imaging informatics or data registries track, or attend sessions in both categories. Themes throughout the conference reflected the tenets of ACR’s Imaging 3.0™ initiative, including improved patient care, maximum efficiency, greater productivity, and increased relevancy of radiology in the health care industry.

Imaging Informatics

The Imaging Informatics Summit highlighted the use of information technology for everything from clinical decision support and patient scheduling to image sharing and systems integration.

Keynote speaker Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, vice chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors and diagnostic radiologist with Trinity Medical Center and a member of the Birmingham Radiological Group, said radiologists must manipulate technology to prevent commoditization. He encouraged radiologists to take ownership of their imaging care and empower patients to understand things like dose and personal health records. “I intuitively know that we provide the best care, but how do we demonstrate that?” Allen asked. “Achieving value is a nebulous thing to figure out.”

Keith Dreyer, DO, PhD, FACR, vice chair of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, discussed radiology and the electronic health record (EHR). He said the industry’s IT infrastructure is too compartmentalized and such programs as EHRs, RIS, and PACS must be integrated — especially for image sharing.

Speaking about clinical decision support, Bob Cooke, vice president of marketing and strategy for National Decision Support Company, explained ACR Select™, an integration-ready clinical support product for imaging. ACR Select will help the profession focus on quality rather than quantity, said Cooke, whose company is working with the ACR to market the product. “ACR Select is a seat at the table for a guaranteed piece of a shrinking pie,” Cooke said.

Asim F. Choudhri, MD, assistant chair of research affairs in the department of radiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, talked about using mobile devices in radiology. He said that while mobile devices may not make reading images faster, the technology can significantly increase a practice’s efficiency, resulting in added value.

Bradley Erickson, MD, professor of radiology and informatics at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., advocated for importing images into electronic systems for sharing. He acknowledged that while the industry will likely continue to share images on CDs for a long time, that method is impractical because CDs are easily lost, scratched, and corrupted. “Importing data into the clinical data system is the right way to go,” he said.

Data Registries

Now more than ever, the focus of health care reform is on quality. For today’s radiology community to thrive, it is imperative to make a fundamental shift from volume to value. At the ACR Data Registries Forum, keynote speaker Louis H. Diamond, MBChB, urged radiologists to recognize that quality is more than just measurement; it is also critical to improve performance and bend the cost curve. “Quality improvement is not an event. It is an ongoing process,” he said. “And radiologists must use every tool at their disposal to drive the quality of care up and the cost of care down.”

One of those tools is the ACR National Radiology Data Registry (NRDR™), and speakers at the forum shared experiences in using ACR data registries to enhance quality and safety. At the Boston University Medical Center, Baojun Li, PhD, cited the ACR Dose Index Registry (DIR) as an invaluable tool to compare his department’s CT radiation dose indices to national benchmarks in order to identify opportunities for dose reduction. “Our goal is not simply achieving the lowest dose possible, but maintaining image quality for diagnosis,” he explained.

Pediatric radiation safety took center stage at the forum. Les R. Folio, DO, MPH, MSc, MAS, indicated that the NIH Clinical Center used DIR reports to identify that the organization’s radiation dose for pediatric sinus patients was higher than the national average. As a result, the team modified its protocol and slashed pediatric sinus radiation dose fivefold in a week — while maintaining adequate quality to rule out sinusitis. Marilyn J. Goske, MD, FACR, said DIR is helping radiologists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center “understand what radiation dose children are getting from our CT scanners and compare our practice to national target ranges.” Valerie Cronin, CNMT, highlighted efforts by Women’s & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo to optimize pediatric radiation dose, while still ensuring image quality.

In addition to monitoring patient radiation levels, radiologists must be prepared to address the dynamic world of payment reform, says Diamond. To that end, ACR experts highlighted the changes, challenges, and opportunities confronting today’s radiology practices, including meaningful use, the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), and the physician valuebased payment modifier, which levies a financial penalty or provides a bonus payment based on quality and cost of care. They also educated attendees about evolving requirements, incentives, and penalties, along with future opportunities to use the ACR data registries to advance quality, safety, and value.

By Jenny Jones and Linda Sowers

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