2011: Health Imaging's editor picks top stories

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Lisa Fratt, Editor, Health Imaging

As I reviewed our Health Imaging’s top features of 2011, Charles Dickens’ great opener “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” sprang to mind. There’s no doubt that imaging faced enormous challenges in 2011 and will continue to encounter more in 2012.

The following 10 stories are the most popular on Health Imaging's site features in 2011.

There are impressive success stories, such as a closed loop imaging project at the University of Chicago Medical Center that produced a 65 percent drop in CT technologist turn-around time.

CT might best epitomize the dichotomous nature of imaging circa 2011. Late in 2010, the National Lung Screening Trial demonstrated a 20 percent mortality benefit to CT screening among high-risk current and former smokers ages 55 to 74. Yet, applying those findings is a work-in-a-progress, evidenced by one of the top-read stories of 2011, which detailed the economic conundrum of CT screening.

Other pain points in the CT realm include radiation exposure and appropriate use. Litigators pounced on the case after a series of patients were over-exposed during CT angiography studies. Similarly, the lay press gobbled up and disseminated misleading claims about “double” CT studies based on Centers for Medicare and Medicaid quality reports.

Yet, innovators carry on. A few weeks ago, researchers confirmed that a blood test could better triage patients who present to the emergency department with suspected traumatic brain injury. It’s no substitute for CT, but could be one of multiple strategies to ensure wise use of imaging services.

The recent fracas over accelerated partial breast brachytherapy, with researchers and media promulgating and exaggerating an isolated study of procedure-related flaws, seems like a microcosm of the screening mammography firestorm. Breast surgeons and radiation oncologists responded quickly, attempting to set straight the record and underscoring an important theme for their colleagues in radiology.

Leadership matters. Healthcare reform, coupled with increasing cost-containment pressures and quality initiatives, necessitate unprecedented levels of collaboration and customer service. It is the modus operandi for radiology and essential for business success.

However, leadership that lacks data may be more problematic than a lack of leadership. Business intelligence, a real-time automated finger on the operations and trends of the imaging department, will help fuel successful practices in 2012 and beyond.

What important projects are on your agenda for 2012? Please let us know, and have a healthy, happy holiday season. The entire TriMed Media staff looks forward to continuing to inform and engage you in the New Year.

Lisa Fratt
Editor, Health Imaging