Radiology should serve as a ‘vital element’ of value-based care, global imaging leaders charge

Radiology must be seen as a “vital element” of healthcare’s march toward value, global imaging leaders charged in a high-profile statement published Monday.

Hospitals and other institutions across the world are currently on this journey to bolster patient outcomes while limiting costs. Radiology is a major contributor to care at many levels, experts noted, and yet many value-based models do not acknowledge this central role, a reality that may have negative consequences down the line.

The Radiological Society of North America—and similar groups in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—urged imaging leaders to speak up and define value, rather than risk getting left behind in these conversations. This includes contributing to the calculation of value-based metrics and the resourcing decisions based on such equations, experts wrote Dec. 21 in Radiology, JACR and several other journals.

“Radiology is a key component of healthcare, impacting greatly on patient outcomes, and must be considered a vital element of VBH,” radiologist Adrian Brady, a vice president with the European Society of Radiology, and colleagues noted. “Radiologists and radiology departments have a responsibility to help define and create value wherever possible and to optimize the yield from what we do,” they added later.

Brady et al. offered nine steps to help others support this endeavor. In short, they are:

  1. Engage often with referring providers to understand their needs and develop trust.
  2. Build services to satisfy these desires “without any conflicts” (i.e., 24/7 availability for emergency care).
  3. Ensure the radiology department is working as a cohesive whole, free of isolated silos.
  4. Structure work plans to help meet other departments’ needs, such as carving out availability for multidisciplinary team meetings.
  5. Optimize workflows to minimize patient wait times for imaging and shorten hospital stays.
  6. Engage directly with patients to answer questions and explain findings, where appropriate.
  7. Optimize info exchange by using IT tools such as clinical decision support and structured reporting.
  8. Monitor metrics constantly and promote a culture of ongoing quality improvement.
  9. Support research around radiology’s impact on therapeutic decisions, patient outcomes and societal benefits.

“By embracing VBH principles, and striving to create value where possible, radiology can contribute greatly to moving from a volume-driven system to a value-driven one, where as many investigations or interventions as possible contribute positively to patient outcomes,” Brady and colleagues concluded. “This will require renewed willingness on the part of radiologists to participate in team-based clinical decision-making with other specialists. It will also require willingness on the part of referrers to work with radiologists to ensure the most appropriate use of radiology resources, services and personnel.”

You can read the entire statement in RSNA’s official journal here and an earlier piece from Brady that inspired it here. Others endorsing the paper included the American College of Radiology, the Canadian Association of Radiologists, the European Society of Radiology, the International Society of Strategic Studies in Radiology and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.