Value, Not Volume

Building value is the mantra of radiology today.

“It’s a time that requires us to produce value, not volume; outcomes, not output,” RSNA President Sarah S. Donaldson, MD, told attendees of the opening session of the 2013 annual meeting of the RSNA last December.

This reality has infused into radiology over the last year. Accountable care organizations and a focus on value-based care have been topics of discussion for years, but there is a new sense of urgency for practices looking to survive in the current healthcare environment. RSNA organizers that I spoke with noted an increased interest in presentations on economics or healthcare policy.

This will be important as radiology fights to defend its niche in healthcare. Being an information source and invaluable tool for diagnosis, imaging would seem to be well-positioned to navigate shifting payment models, but there are concerns that radiology might get the short end of the stick when it comes to shared savings if radiologists don’t become a more visible presence. Even the Meaningful Use incentive program seems tailored toward primary care, with many criteria not applying to imaging—perhaps this is why approximately 60 percent of Medicare eligible professional are meaningful users of EHRs while only 14 percent of radiologists have attested for Meaningful Use, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

However, radiologists don’t have to face these new challenges alone. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and others have successfully lobbied to make some Meaningful Use criteria more relevant to radiology. ACR’s Imaging 3.0 campaign offers a collection of resources to help radiologists take a leadership role in healthcare and provide high-value, quality care. Check out the cover story in this issue for more on these efforts.

Also in this issue, Health Imaging checks in on the latest federal guidelines for mobile health apps, as well as offers a primer on the movement toward more pricing transparency in healthcare.

As the calendar turns to 2014, the urgency for radiology to demonstrate its value will only become stronger. Fortunately, thanks to collaborative events like the RSNA meeting and the efforts of the ACR, the specialty can hope to not only survive, but thrive in this new era of healthcare.

Evan Godt, Editor