From the Editor: Predictions, Partnering & Appropriateness

According to Benjamin Franklin, the only certainties in life are death and taxes. I think it’s fairly safe to add change to the list, particularly for healthcare professionals. Medical imaging holds true to form with constant tweaks to the norm.

In the traditional diagnostic imaging department, radiologists were isolated from their clinical colleagues. They read studies, stressed maximum utilization of imaging equipment and focused on anatomic imaging. Although the crystal ball remains a bit hazy, it is fairly clear that the days of maximum imaging in isolation are drawing to a close.

With some studies placing the amount of inappropriate imaging studies as high as 30 percent, radiologists need to reconsider their practices. The 21st century radiologist is a collaborator, partnering with clinical colleagues to ensure appropriate utilization of imaging studies. The model helps trim radiation dose, contain costs and sets the stage for well-devised downstream management. This month, Health Imaging & IT explores the essentials for widespread implementation of Appropriate Use Criteria. IT is an essential stepping stone, but experts also predict that financial incentives (or the dreaded penalties) may play a role. With cost-cutting in vogue among states and feds, legislation to push appropriate use may not be too far off.  

As radiologists reach out to their clinical colleagues with one hand, they’ll need to build additional bridges with imaging specialists across the enterprise. Molecular imaging utilization and applications continue to expand; oncology applications are increasing, particularly in the therapeutic monitoring arena. Neuro and cardiac applications also show greater promise. We dive into the crystal ball and analyze these and other keys trends in our annual future of radiology cover story. Digital pathology is flexing its muscles, with all major diagnostic imaging vendors investing in digital pathology and, at times, piggybacking on imaging and RIS/PACS technology in the development of new digital pathology solutions.

At the same time, some aspects of radiology remain constant. Health Imaging & IT tackles the tough topic of productivity this month. Hint: it’s not all about technology.

As we anticipate the new year, I hope you find value in the following pages and that our insights and analysis help you effectively plan for change and stay ahead of the pack.

Finally, as our staff plans ahead to better meet readers’ needs please feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions.