Why Radiology Care Is Central to Population Health

Syed F. Zaidi, MD, MBA, Chair of the Population Health Management (PHM) Committee of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care and Associate Chief Medical Officer of Integrations with Radiology Partners, contributed this piece.

The goal of population health management is to keep a population as healthy as possible, minimizing the need for expensive interventions such as emergency department visits, hospitalizations, imaging tests and procedures. Population health management requires healthcare providers to develop new skillsets and infrastructures for delivering care. The field of radiology has an opportunity to bring additional value to this developing enterprise.

The continuum of PHM can be broken up into 3 major portions:

  • Surveillance/Prevention, which includes screening and AI tools;
  • Acute Care, which includes Imaging 3.0, Choosing Wisely, best practice recommendations, CDS and IP care coordination; and
  • Chronic Disease Management, which includes follow-up programs, oncology intervention and findings which predispose to chronic disease such as fatty liver and metabolic syndrome.

Providing continuity of care to our patients often presents a challenge for radiologists. However, the screening avenues of breast imaging, virtual colonoscopy and lung cancer screening CT afford us an opportunity to consistently engage with our patients and manage their care. By employing image-based screening to deliver quality patient care, we can meet and even exceed strategic health system needs to ultimately deliver quality patient care.  By working with payers and health systems, radiologists can participate in alternative payment models and risk-sharing arrangements with our value recognized in providing high quality and cost-effective care.

I encourage you to check out the online recording of a recent PHM Committee webinar where my colleagues Cecelia Brewington, MD, FACR; Lauren Golding, MD; Debra Dyer, MD, FACR; Ryan Lee, MBA, MD, and I dive deeper into radiology’s central role in patient screening program success as one of the key foundations of successful population health management.

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