A look at three articles published in this week's issue of FierceMedicalImaging demonstrates the need for--and the value of--radiology and medical imaging research.
While the passage of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act--which includes a 12-month Sustainable Growth Rate patch and a delay in the implementation of ICD-10--appears to be a good news/bad news proposition for many healthcare organizations, the imaging community is giving it full its full support. While it's easy to see why, that doesn't mean it's a good way to make public policy.
A couple of very recent studies demonstrate the continuing challenges facing residents in medical imaging-related programs--and by extension, the programs themselves. As we have seen, radiology residents have been increasingly worried about issues like a stagnant job market--a situation that is probably exacerbated by concerns about their financial security.
Last month, when federal lawmakers--on a bipartisan basis--reached a deal to permanently repeal the sustainable growth rate formula, it seemed that it's end finally was at hand. But now, a month later, politics has reared its ugly head and threatens to derail that agreement.
It's reassuring that when it comes to children, researchers seem to be succeeding in coming up with ways of reducing their risks to radiation overexposure.
According to research published this month in the American Journal of Roentgenology, the vast majority of patient education articles that make their way onto RadiologyInfo.org--a jointly sponsored website of the American College of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America--are written at a 10th grade level. That may not seem like too much of an intellectual burden to overcome for radiologists who are, by definition, highly educated. But, when one looks at the American population as a whole, it's a problem.
This past week, two Canadian medical associations--the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR)--issued a joint policy statement in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada opposing the nonmedical use of fetal ultrasound. These associations are particularly concerned about the rise of nonmedical ultrasound centers that provide "entertainment scans," or keepsake images that are provided to expectant parents.
Earlier this year, a European Society of Cardiology position paper--published in the European Heart Journal--urged cardiologists to be more proactive in reducing inappropriate radiation exposure to their patients during cardiology procedures. Now, an article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology recommends measures physicians can take to enhance the safety and effectiveness of such procedures.
Last week, federal lawmakers finally reached a deal to permanently repeal the perennially unpopular sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. The central provision of bipartisan legislation avoids a 23.7 percent reimbursement cut scheduled for April 1 of this year, and instead increases physician reimbursement rates for 0.5 percent annually for five years.
This, of course, is welcome news. As the American College of Radiology has pointed out, repeated cuts in all probability had a negative impact on medical imaging facilities being able to keep their doors open, never mind continuing to offer a full range of services.