It’s Time to Ditch the Disk

Koran_MaryEllenRadiology residents Mary Ellen Koran, MD, PhD and Audrey Verde, MD, PhD, from Stanford University, contributed this post.

Opinions are the authors’ own and do not reflect their institutions’ opinions.

Radiology is an inherently innovative specialty. However, as medicine modernizes both in technology and health care delivery, transfer of patient imaging has lagged behind. The majority of medical centers still rely on compact discs (CDs) as the transport medium for radiologic exams.

Verde_Audrey

Currently, no standardized protocols exist to govern the use of CDs to convey imaging information across health care systems, which leads to vast discrepancies in image transfer. Radiologists are isolated without access to the imaging completed at hospitals outside of their own institutions that may be required to provide complete patient care. Patients are individually burdened with carrying their CDs instead of having a seamless on-demand image transfer system. We need to work together to find a better solution for sharing images to improve patient care. It’s time to migrate away from antiquated methods for sharing personal health records (PHRs).

To facilitate this shift, the American College of Radiology Informatics Commission established the Ditch the Disk Task Force in 2018. We encourage practices to transition from cumbersome, unsecured CDs to digital, secure, cloud-based file-sharing. The continued use of CDs and lack of universal practice directly correlate to discrepancy in patient history, unnecessary imaging and delay in treatment.

The #DitchTheDisk Task Force is actively seeking patient and practitioner advocates as we embark on a journey to change the method of PHR storage. To get involved, please fill out this form or email ditchthedisk@acr.org.

Please look out for our next blog posts on how CDs impact patient care in the trauma and cancer settings.

Share your thoughts using the hashtag #DitchTheDisk on social media, in the comments section below or by joining the discussion on Engage (login required).

To Effect Change, Take a Seat at the Table

Georgia Giakoumis SpearGeorgia Giakoumis Spear, MD, Chief, Breast Imaging at NorthShore University HealthSystem and Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, contributed this post.

Following my recent appearance as a medical expert in the passage of Illinois’ breast density notification legislation, the Illinois Radiological Society’s legal counsel asked me to testify in support of new state legislation (SB162) to mandate insurance coverage of diagnostic mammograms, one of the first bills of its kind.

I agreed. I felt compelled to use my medical knowledge to uphold a woman’s right to affordable healthcare. I made my way to Springfield to take my seat at the table and provide medical expert testimony at the Senate committee hearing. The questioning and opposition, from insurers and legislators alike, were strong.

To be successful in this setting, you must focus on the fact that early detection of breast cancer saves lives.

Many women need a diagnostic mammogram to determine whether a screening study has indeed found cancer. We must ensure that our patients have affordable access to examinations they need.

The clinical impact of a costly exam is noncompliance. This cost is too great if a woman is ultimately diagnosed with advanced stage disease.

In nearly two hours of intense debate, I stressed the importance of diagnostic mammograms in early breast cancer detection and how they help reduce advanced stage diagnoses.

The result? SB162 passed in the Senate committee. This step assured passage in the House as well. Recently, Illinois State Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill, which will take effect on January 1, 2020.

As breast imaging radiologists, we are privileged to interact with our patients and to provide our expertise to uphold our mission – to find breast cancer early when it is manageable and treatable.

Diagnostic mammograms can cost women upwards of $500 if they have not met their deductible. Particularly if her health plan has a high deductible, this can keep her from getting care she needs.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, in Illinois, this particular economic hardship will be removed. Women will be covered for diagnostic mammograms deemed necessary by their physicians, without deductibles or co-pays.

This new law will have a great impact on women’s health. For that, I will take a seat at the table every time.

Speaking of taking a seat at the table – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I urge you to take your seat at the table – whether that’s serving as a medical expert in the legislative process as I did, or using the new ACR mammography CME toolkit to talk with your referring providers about using this resource to explain to patients why women should get screening mammograms each year starting at age 40.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below and join the discussion on Engage (login required).