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The future of dose optimization in imaging

September 23, 2016
Patrick Hope
From the September 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
Medical imaging has revolutionized patient care, enabling physicians to detect disease earlier and improve health outcomes. While evidence shows the benefits of appropriate imaging far outweigh the potential risks, the industry leads a global effort to mitigate radiation dose exposure while maintaining, or even improving, image quality.

While new innovations and standards are available to help ensure proper use of imaging technologies, truly successful dose optimization requires ongoing collaboration with industry partners, health professionals, regulatory bodies and government agencies. Manufacturers are only one piece of the puzzle. At the heart of collaborative efforts to ensure patients receive safe, effective care is the implementation of physician-developed appropriateness criteria to guide decision-making and industry led manufacturer standards to provide tools to manage dose.

Implementing standards ensures physicians and technicians are equipped to produce quality images while customizing a procedure to meet an individual patient’s needs based on age, body size and other factors. In partnership with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), its parent organization, the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) has a long history developing standards and driving consensus among stakeholders to improve imaging technologies for the benefit of patients.

NEMA XR-29 Standard Attributes on Computed Tomography (CT) Equipment Related to Dose Optimization and Management, or MITA Smart Dose, identified four safety features of CT equipment that enable optimization and management of radiation dose, such as notifications and alerts that signal when dose exceeds established thresholds. All new CT equipment includes these features, and in April 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law a policy to incentivize the adoption of XR-29. As a result, scans performed on noncompliant CT and hybrid scanners now receive a 5 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement, and next January, this will increase to 15 percent. These reductions apply to the hospital outpatient setting as well as services billed under the physician fee schedule.

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