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3 reasons radiologists will lead health delivery reform

by Nancy Ryerson, Staff Writer | April 01, 2013
Michael Franklin, CEO at
Atlantic General Hospital
Health care would do well to follow the lead of radiology departments when working towards reform, according to Michael Franklin, CEO at Atlantic General Hospital in Maryland. He outlines several ways radiologists can be leaders in IT, telemedicine and accountability, in an article published in the April issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The article highlighted the following three ways that radiologists can help drive hospitals to more effective, patient-centered care:

1. Health IT
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Franklin believes the way radiologists have implemented PACS offers a blueprint for effective health IT in other departments.

"Medical imaging has been a leader in integrating information systems into all elements of the clinical operations," Franklin wrote. "PACS and associated radiology information systems created operational and clinical examples of accessibility and portability of diagnostic information critical for clinical decision making and quality patient care."

He noted that IT has also been used successfully in the mammography space thanks to computer-aided diagnosis. The program BI-RADS uses best-practice clinical information to create a diagnostic report, a process Franklin says combines IT, clinical information and physician decision in an effective way that other departments should mimic.

2. Telemedicine
Radiology has also led the way in telemedicine, Franklin said, another innovation that he feels will help transform health care by increasing patient access to physicians.

Teleradiology is one of the most common uses of telemedicine, making radiologists the ideal choice for leading a transformation in the way long-distance medicine is conducted.

"Patients in rural areas have benefited from access to care without the added costs associated with traveling to metropolitan areas for repeat procedures," Franklin wrote. "Following this lead, other primary and specialty care areas of medicine are using telemedicine technology...to create models of care that are patient centered."

He explains that while telemedicine can be effective, it makes it even more important for radiologists and primary care physicians to share clinical information to avoid confusion and misdiagnosis.

3. Keeping each other accountable
Radiologists' strength in computer systems will also be helpful as facilities build peer review systems, Franklin wrote.

Peer review is required by the Joint Commission, and Franklin said it's especially important for radiologists to determine their own set of standards among themselves.

"With radiologists performing a primary function within hospitals that touches so many patients, the development of criteria specific to procedures and subspecialty evaluation (such as neuroradiology or MRI) is vital," he wrote.

Peer evaluation requires staff to find a means to objectively evaluate and collect data that measures quality. Franklin says radiologists "have a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this area" because of their experience gathering and analyzing data using computer systems.

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