As pressure mounts to control health care costs, the American College of Radiology is taking action to accumulate real data on the impact of medical imaging on health care quality, delivery and cost. Today it announced that it is establishing the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute (HPI) to “examine the role of radiology in new health care delivery and payment models — particularly quality based approaches to radiologic care and the impact of medical imaging on overall health care costs.”
In other words, is advanced medical imaging and other costly radiology services actually a value in the overall health care picture by holding down costs related to missed diagnoses, unnecessary surgeries and more. Furthermore, if this is the case, could restricting easy access to radiology services through health policy decisions like shrinking reimbursement — as the proposed 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule does — actually lead to overall higher health care costs?
“Most of the existing research regarding radiology policy focuses solely on cost and utilization of imaging as standalone end points. This is an incomplete approach,” stated Bibb Allen, MD, FACR, chair of the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute Board of Directors, in a press release from the ACR. “The Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute will build on existing data and conduct new research to determine the impact of radiologic exams on downstream care and overall health care spending.”
The ACR hopes that with access to better data about imaging, policy makers can make better informed decisions about issues like imaging utilization.
“At present, lawmakers and regulators are making policy decisions about medical imaging without knowing their full effects on individual patients or the health care system as a whole,” warned Richard Duszak, Jr, MD, FACR, chief executive officer of the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute in the same release.
The institute’s namesake, Dr. Neiman, is the current chief executive officer of the American College of Radiology (ACR). He has also been chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors and chair of the ACR commissions on economics, education, and ultrasound. He previously served as chair of the Department of Radiology at The Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, chief of cardiovascular radiology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and chief of cardiac radiology at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. A prolific author and lecturer, he is the recent recipient of the Radiology Leadership Institute’s Leadership Luminary award.