With few exceptions, the most attention-demanding discussions about how and when artificial intelligence will transform radiology have been led by—and largely held within—the academic sector. That’s not surprising, given that teaching radiologists are the ones doing the research, blazing the trails and comparing the notes.
Seven years after the FDA approved the first tomosynthesis device for breast cancer screening, adoption rates for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) remain on an upswing. Earlier this year the agency reported a nearly 30 percent increase of certified mammography facilities offering DBT—aka “3D mammography,” aka “tomo”—over just the past year (from 3,178 facilities in March 2017 to 4,074 in March 2018).
New developments in medical imaging aren’t the only items that bear tracking by radiology practices and hospitals. Imaging leaders also must remain informed about Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policies, safety standards, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, ICD-10 codes, Joint Commission updates, the Health Information Privacy and Accountability Act (HIPAA), kickback laws, repeated attempts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act and much more. Staying up to date is a big job that keeps getting bigger, and the time invested in doing it is significant—but the risks of ignorance and non-compliance outweigh the aggravation.
Earlier this year, a bill known as HB 1036 passed in the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate and was subsequently signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Sponsored by Texas Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), the law requires all commercial insurance providers in Texas to cover the cost of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT, also known as 3D mammography) for all patients.
In the not-too-distant past, patients seldom, if ever, had an opportunity to meet face-to-face with a radiologist or access their own imaging reports. In addition, providers rarely asked for feedback or considered the patient’s perspective when implementing new policies. But in the age of patient satisfaction, times are changing as radiology practices and hospital radiology departments are implementing patient-centered strategies intended to improve patient care and, in turn, support an increased level of patient satisfaction.
Shortly before her 40th birthday, a woman visits her primary care physician and is advised she should schedule her first mammogram. The patient is puzzled and says she “read somewhere” that she can wait a few years. The physician has heard this before and kindly convinces the patient to comply with the recommendation. She agrees, schedules the mammogram and receives her results before even leaving the imaging facility.
In the not-too-distant past, picture archiving communication systems, or PACS, were the backbone of every image capture and storage strategy. However, the tide is turning as some healthcare providers gravitate toward vendor-neutral archives (VNAs), in which images and clinical data are stored in a standard format and with a standard interface that make them accessible by systems from disparate vendors.