Appropriate imaging: No quick fix

Defining appropriate use of imaging dominated this week’s headlines, suggesting radiology’s challenging balancing act.

On Feb. 19, the American College of Radiology (ACR) Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute released a framework to help policymakers, payers and other stakeholders more accurately classify repeat imaging. The premise is simple: Not all repeat imaging is unnecessary. The solutions, however, are quite complex.

Understanding and labeling the root cause of a repeat exam should inform policies and procedures to help prevent such exams. Policymakers may be able to tame duplicate images ordered for defensive purposes with substantive tort reform. However, curbing duplicate images ordered in the case of unavailable prior images requires IT fixes.

The American Board of Internal Medicine released 17 medical specialty societies’ lists of top five tests, procedures or treatments that are commonly performed but aren’t always necessary on Feb. 21. Imaging was a top offender.

As these societies educate their members about appropriate imaging, radiologists can support their efforts, or they can ignore them. The ACR has demonstrated a clear leadership model. Acknowledge the issue, join the conversation and devise a framework for clarifying the problem.  

Is your practice part of the conversation? How has it proceeded? Please let us know. Health Imaging would like to profile these efforts in upcoming features.

Lisa Fratt, editor

Health Imaging