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I have to point the finger at people within the imaging community, because we typically publish studies that don't address the impact that imaging has on patient outcomes and cost savings. Currently, what most of us are doing in our research is saying that this particular imaging study is more accurate than current standard practices and we stop there and don't take the next step, which is to say that this imaging study helped that patient avoid undergoing a $15,000 to $30,000 exploratory surgery, for example.

We are on the brink of putting into place some very powerful tools, for instance molecular imaging probes and new compounds for targeted radiotherapy. That we could be in danger of not being able to put those into play because people are obsessed with reducing spending on imaging - it's unbelievable. It's a crime to have worked as hard as we have in our field to get these tools into practice only to have our chances thrown out the window by this new preoccupation. Again, if we had those prospective studies in hand it would inform the whole debate of health care reform. Since they really aren't available now, we need to make sure we have them for the next time around.
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Robert Atcher is the immediate past president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine, University of New Mexico/Los Alamos National Laboratory professor of pharmacy and a fellow of the American Institute of Chemists. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed journal articles, holds eight patents and has been invited to speak at more than 120 lectures worldwide. Atcher holds a doctorate from the University of Rochester, N.Y., a master's in business administration from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and a master's in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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