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C.P. Kaiser, Editor

In stroke care, the mantra is time is brain. Similarly, time is of the essence in x-ray imaging. The more time spent waiting for an x-ray image, the more chance there is for a bottleneck in patient flow, which can lead to revenue loss, patient dissatisfaction, longer report turn-around times and suboptimal images. The latest generation of wireless digital radiography (DR) technology provides the efficiency, flexibility and clinical applications radiology departments need.

 - advanced visualization

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated that facilities integrate advanced visualization imaging from CT, MRI and nuclear medicine into their EHRs/EMRs by 2015.

MRI provides unparalleled soft-tissue contrast, but its drawback is its temporal resolution. MR imaging can take up to 20 minutes or longer. Several developments could accelerate and simplify cardiac MR to make it more competitive with cardiac CT.

Novel ways of approaching the cardiovascular disease process, such as in the hybrid OR/cath lab suite, are becoming increasingly common. A hybrid lab sets the stage for cutting edge cardiovascular interventions and facilitates collegiality among varied specialties. There are, however, several challenges to overcome when planning and initiating a hybrid OR/cath lab including turf, expenses and accounting.

Ten years ago, it was nearly impossible to go through the day without seeing an advertisement for whole-body CT screening. Today its a different story. The radiation dose exposure from CT scanning has come under intense scrutiny and the value of CT screening must be proved in rigorous trials before many payors, especially Medicare, will consider reimbursing for an exam.

The technological advancements of computed radiography and digital radiography have kept them relevant and key to timely, high-quality patient care. Its not an either-or proposition, hospitals must find a way to use them both complementarily to harness the strengths of each to improve patient care.

It was hard to miss the loud rumbles in November. In a reversal of its 2002 recommendations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new guidelines last month recommending against routine screening mammography in women aged 40 to 49 years and advocating screening only every two years for women aged 50 to 74 years. The uproar reverberated across the nation and shook up the nations Capitol, as well.

Digital angiography systems allow for faster acquisition, sharper image quality and less x-ray exposure to the patient and staff. It is good news all around.

Healthcare spending in the United States has increased dramatically in the last decade and radiology has been singled out as a main culprit. As imaging volumes increase, reimbursement decreases and competition sharpens, radiology practices and departments must make more effective use of the data and technology available today. Voice recognition (VR) software solutions can help reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve patient care.