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In Development: Imaging IT solutions for the new health care

November 24, 2014
Mike Tilkin
From the October 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
We all know that health care is evolving. The traditional fee-for-service model focused on quantity is being superseded by a value-based model focused on quality, with some sources projecting that more than two thirds of payments will be value contingent in the next five years. To help radiologists thrive in this new paradigm, the American College of Radiology has launched ACR Imaging 3.0 — a road map and corresponding service and technology tool set that radiologists are using to chart the course in this new frontier of medicine.

Imaging 3.0 is the culmination of radiology’s long history. It began in 1895 when German physicist Wilhelm C. Rontgen discovered that under certain conditions, cathode rays could produce a new type of rays, which he dubbed X-rays. We refer to the period from Rontgen’s breakthrough to the introduction of the helical CT in 1990 as Imaging 1.0. Since then, radiology has advanced exponentially with improved modalities and the advent of digital imaging and PACS. But even as the demand for radiology has soared in this Imaging 2.0 era, the industry has faced challenges with rising health care costs, unnecessary radiation exposure, and the threat of obscurity for radiologists, as many have focused on imaging interpretation in back office reading rooms rather than consultation directly with referring physicians and patients.

The Imaging 3.0 initiative resolves those challenges by taking radiologists beyond their reading rooms to maximize their value throughout each episode of imaging care: from the time a referring physician considers imaging to the point that the radiologist delivers actionable clinical recommendations. It outlines the path to high-quality medicine by ensuring appropriate imaging, documenting the value of radiology in patient care, empowering patients through information, and positioning radiologists as leaders in health care reform. In short, Imaging 3.0 is a guide to the future of radiology.

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To advance along the Imaging 3.0 path, radiologists will need robust solutions that go beyond the throughput-based strategies used in the Imaging 2.0 world. A workflow platform that emphasizes measurable quality, external integration, and radiologist presence will be critical for success. Within that workflow, radiologists will need tools that ensure imaging appropriateness at the point of order, provide evidence-based guidance throughout interpretation, and integrate their findings and recommendations seamlessly into the patient care process. To that end, the ACR is working with industry professionals to facilitate a new generation of IT solutions — from clinical decision support to actionable reporting — that provide radiologists with the tools they need, precisely when they need them, for integrated patient-centered care.

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