Optimizing Patient Care Requires Teamwork, and Radiology Can Be the Team Captain

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This post was contributed by Ryan Fitzgerald, MD, and Scott Harter, MD, of Radiology Consultants in Little Rock, Arkansas.  

Radiology is as integral to the day-to-day operations of a modern hospital as any other department. As radiologists, we are well aware of our critical role in the health care system. That said, quantifying the value that we provide can be challenging.

The Radiology Support, Communication and Alignment Network (R-SCANTM) is a tool that can assist practices in this endeavor and at the same time satisfy the Medicare Merit-based Incentive Program (MIPS) requirement that was put in place by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). By participating in R-SCAN, Radiology Consultants has a unique opportunity to work with emergency departments to improve imaging appropriateness and optimize patient care by consulting appropriate use criteria (AUC) and clinical decision support (CDS).

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Our project will examine the utilization of head CT imaging for patients with minor head trauma in the emergency department by sampling CT utilization prior to and following an educational module on appropriateness of head CT imaging derived from evidence-based guidelines in the ACR Appropriateness Criteria. We hypothesize that by emphasizing a guidelines-based strategy for head CT utilization, the number of unnecessary exams will be reduced – thereby increasing the overall value per scan and decreasing costs to the health system.

Our focus area is one of a large number of potential areas of study available through R-SCAN, and going forward our group hopes to broaden our scope and identify additional areas for quality improvement. Not only can projects such as these fulfill MIPS requirements, but they also facilitate communication and interaction with our clinician referrers that can reinforce the important role radiologists play in the health of our patients.

In the recently released 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) proposed rule, CMS reaffirmed that it will begin requiring referring providers to consult appropriate use criteria prior to ordering advanced medical imaging services. By participating in R-SCAN, we’ll be ahead of the curve – and we, our health systems and our patients will benefit.

  • How are you preparing for Jan. 1, 2020, when the implementation of AUC/CDS for all Medicare advanced diagnostic imaging services takes affect?
  • Are you participating in an R-SCAN project?

Please provide your thoughts the comments section below or on the Engage discussion board (login required).

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