An Age of Opportunity
Speakers during the economics session emphasized the need to transition from volume- to value-based health care.
As part of Tuesday's program, the Economics Forum included a discussion of future opportunities for radiology, including the transition to compensation driven by performance rather than productivity.
Forum speakers issued a collective call to promote the relevance of radiologists, proactively advocate for their profession, and move from a volume-based care model to one premised on quality imaging.
One of the biggest challenges facing radiology is a misalignment of incentives and outcomes, according to Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD, FACR, chair of the ACR IT and Informatics Committee, vice chair of radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, and the forum's keynote speaker. Dreyer contended that in the current health-care environment, incentives are guided by productivity levels. However, he noted that if incentives could be tied instead to outcomes, high-quality patient care would become the new goal, and radiologists and referring physicians could work in close collaboration.
To further this objective, Dreyer highlighted two programs that will potentially enhance radiologists' relevance along the health-care spectrum: meaningful use and Imaging 3.0™. Meaningful use, a program administered by CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, is designed to lower health-care costs, decrease medical errors, and improve patient care by promoting the use of electronic health records (EHRs). Meaningful use has spurred innovation such that, in the near future, many PACS will be able to communicate with a host of EHR systems so that images can be shared nationwide. This development will allow radiologists to confer directly with both patients and referring physicians, solidifying radiologists' central role in health care. (For more information about meaningful use, see February's "Means to an End" at http://bit.ly/MeanstoanEnd.)
Similarly, Dreyer enumerated how Imaging 3.0 will also help increase radiologists' significance. Imaging 3.0 is a suite of tools assembled by the College to help members transition from volume-based care to a value-based approach. Dreyer highlighted one tool in particular that can assist in establishing radiologists as imaging consultants: ACR Select™. This clinical decision support software helps physicians consistently order the right imaging for the right patient. When they question a suggestion made by the software, physicians can consult with radiologists, thereby ensuring radiologists' crucial role in the health-care continuum.
As the profession shifts from a volume- to a value-based business model, radiologists need to secure a place in the decision-making process. James V. Rawson, MD, FACR, stated that once radiologists sit down with policy-makers to design new reimbursement incentives, they would need tools to demonstrate radiology's critical role in quality health care. These tools include articles in peer-reviewed publications, sample business models, and process improvement and leadership skills gained at CME activities, Rawson noted.
Chair of the ACR Commission on Economics Geraldine B. McGinty, MD, MBA, FACR, concluded the forum with a rousing call to arms, echoing the need for radiologists to evolve from image readers to imaging consultants. "Imaging 3.0 demonstrates that imaging is a high-value solution," McGinty said. She emphasized the necessity for radiologists to redefine what it means to be productive and valuable members of the medical community. (Read more about Imaging 3.0 in a handout featured in the May issue of the Bulletin at http://bit.ly/Img3Handout.)