2007 will go down in history in the imaging marketplace. It’s the year three little letters—DRA—impacted the market more strongly than anything ever before. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 cut $13 billion from Medicare reimbursements for medical imaging to imaging centers and physician offices, according to estimates from the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of NEMA. Among the hardest hit were PET/CT scans for oncology (54 percent), MR angiography (42 percent), bone densitometry scans (40 percent) and ultrasound-guided breast biopsies (35 percent). (If you’d like more information on advocacy and working to stop future reimbursement cuts, visit medicalimaging.org, imagingaccess.org or the MITA booth at RSNA.)
But challenge makes the strong fight harder. Imaging providers are striking back with a push to increase imaging procedures by fortifying partnerships with hospitals and physicians, improving workflow, bettering the competition with state-of-the-art technology and swifter report turnaround, and extending hours. What types of technology are facilities investing in? Digital mammography, CT, MRI and PET/CT topped the buying list in our Top Trends survey last month. And as you’ll see in our RSNA 360 Technology Previews that begin on page 18, these are hot technologies on the exhibit floor too. Digital mammography systems offer new features, mobility, coupling with CAD systems and more streamlined digital workflow. In CT, 64-slice is still the big attention-grabber, and there will be lots of futures talk as well.
On the clinical front, cardiac imaging with CT and MRI, breast imaging with ultrasound and MRI, lung CAD, and molecular imaging are the key topics in the Scientific Program. Abstracts pertaining to cardiac CT outnumbered those on MR imaging three to one this year. Emergency radiology, CAD and CT colonography for colon cancer detection and ultra-high field strength MR in neuroradiology also share the agenda. Overall, CAD’s applications are increasing—with use expanding into colon, lung, prostate and musculoskeletal imaging.
But the true power of imaging is the information gleaned from high-quality images by radiologists, cardiologists and other specialists…it’s the knowledge. IT is the means to connect diagnostician with care provider, allowing for image review and reporting, and communication with specialists, surgeons and referring physicians. It also allows mining of clinical knowledge for best practices and provides a tool to drive practice efficiencies.
In the IT space, integrated and web-based RIS/PACS, EMR, CPOE and voice recognition software are clear dominators at RSNA this year. Look for increased user friendliness via reporting templates, remote access to clinical images, web-based scheduling, and other tools to streamline radiology clinical and operational workflow. Imaging + IT truly does = Knowledge. Knowledge makes the strong stronger, too.