A True Picture of Radiology
The College's newest institute provides research on the effects of health policy and illustrates the true value of radiology.
How do you define imaging? For some, it is the means to a successful livelihood for themselves and their staff; for others, it's an indispensable tool used to improve a patient's quality of life.
Unfortunately, as the radiology community has seen during the past few years, politicians, government committees, and others often see just the cost of imaging — not the benefits. Not only is this perception unfairly narrow, it has also led to guidelines and laws that require radiologists to adopt new health-care delivery methods and payment models, like the Multiple Procedure Payment Reduction, that are based on potentially outdated, biased, and erroneous research.
To help radiologists address these challenges, the College recently established the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute. The institute "will more broadly examine how [imaging] can best be implemented in evolving increasingly value-conscious health-care delivery models and study the optimal role of radiologists in ensuring the quality, safety, and efficiency of these vital exams while optimizing patient access," said Richard Duszak Jr., MD, FACR, institute chief executive officer, in a press release. "At present, lawmakers and regulators are making policy decisions about medical imaging without knowing their full effects on individual patients or the health-care system as a whole. The institute will strive to answer many of these important questions."
“Most of the existing research regarding radiology policy focuses solely on cost and utilization of imaging as standalone end points. This is an incomplete approach.” — Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR
Just the Facts
According to the Health Care Cost Institute, of all physician services used by privately insured Americans, imaging has experienced the slowest growth. Additionally, imaging for Medicare patients has decreased since 2008, and Medicare spending on imaging exams hovers at 2003 levels. Yet policymakers continue to target radiology for cuts to Medicare reimbursements, based on inaccurate or obsolete data.
"Most of the existing research regarding radiology policy focuses solely on cost and utilization of imaging at standalone end points. This is an incomplete approach," explained Bibb Allen Jr., MD, FACR, vice chair of the ACR, and the chair of the institute's board of directors, in the release. "The Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute will build on existing data and conduct new research to determine the impact of radiologic exams on downstream care and overall health-care spending. As recognized experts in medical imaging, radiologists are uniquely positioned to perform this work. The ACR is proud to support these efforts, which will serve as the basis for true, evidence-based medical imaging policy options and benefit all those who need care."
By Brett Hansen