d01a.JPG (12074 bytes)Of all the incredible events, products, services, and information released at this year’s RSNA, among the most interesting, and perhaps of most potential impact to the field of diagnostic imaging, was the continued discussion about the increased utilization and cost of professional services.

Indeed, payors of all types—from federal and state health programs to managed care organizations to indemnity and self-funded insurance programs—are closely watching the rising costs for a couple of significant segments of healthcare benefits. One of the fastest-growing segments is imaging procedures, and those who pay the bills are analyzing and planning for cutbacks and restrictions.

It is incumbent upon all physicians to carefully monitor their utilization and help identify the benefits of utilization models that emphasize quality. Additionally, with the growing number of scanners and other imaging devices found in the offices of referring physicians imaging will continue to attract scrutiny.

As was apparent at RSNA, information is power, and the information generated from the various imaging modalities and technologies that support the profession will be key to the defense of selection, utilization, and outcomes of medical-imaging studies. The scrutiny is real and will not fade until payors understand how money allocated to diagnostics saves elsewhere.

Alignment around this issue has never been more important for the profession. It will be critical for technologists, physicians, engineers, and administrators to speak with one voice about the benefits of our technologies and about the role each play in the consultative review of utilization requests.

At Medical Imaging, we will continue to identify emerging issues, provide information about the technologies themselves, as well as the role each member of the industry plays to convince the payors that each decision is justified.

Curtis Pickelle
Publisher, Medical Imaging
President, MWC