The storm after the calm
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Lisa Fratt, Editor, Health Imaging
It’s became quite apparent this week that the relative quiet of the summer months has been supplanted by a hectic return to business as usual.

The number of clinical studies focused on imaging seems to be on an uptick. And vendors are rallying their forces—unveiling new offerings at a rapid clip, touting sales and installs and, in some cases, pondering consolidation. Market research firms also have kicked into gear, releasing analyses of various imaging segments. Be sure to check in with to stay on top of the news.

David C. Levin, MD, and colleagues from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, attempted to set the record straight and demonstrate critics’ contentions about imaging costs and utilization may be overblown. The prevailing notion that imaging plays a large role in the rising costs of patient care is incorrect, according to Levin et al, who showed that overall costs of non-invasive diagnostic imaging to Medicare Part B have dropped 21 percent from 2006 to 2010. It’s an important point to share with policymakers and financial decisionmakers.

Another top-of-the-mind issue is safety. A troubling Canadian analysis identified a staff safety concern when it found 42 percent of x-rays acquired on infant in a neonatal intensive care unit contained extraneous adult fingers. The need to further detail this problem and eliminate unnecessary radiation is clear.

Although radiation exposure often grabs the lion’s share of safety concerns, radiology must contend with other issues. MR sedation for young children presents both a safety and cost issue. A program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., reduced the need for sedation among children with sickle cell disease undergoing brain or liver MR studies. An added plus is that the program is low-cost and widely applicable. It exemplifies the creative collaboration imaging needs.

The need for improved communication also looms large. A survey of referring physicians published online Aug. 23 in Journal of Nuclear Medicine revealed many are confused about oncologic PET/CT, and don’t have a solid grasp on appropriate indications for the exam. Radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians could lend a helping hand via organized educational programs to educate their colleagues.

What programs, systems and technologies help shelter your practice from these storms? We’d love to hear from you.

Lisa Fratt, editor