Echocardiography's expanding role in cardiovascular diagnosis and management

by Sridhar Nadamuni, Contributing Reporter | March 07, 2017
From the March 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

The potential for inappropriate use or over-utilization of echo remains, commented Dr. Kort, who is a member of a writing group representing several professional societies including the ACC and the ASE, which develop appropriate use criteria for multimodality imaging and assessment of cardiac structure and function in patients with both valvular and non-valvular cardiovascular diseases. In her opinion, adherence to guidelines and appropriate use criteria documents can improve proper utilization of echo. “Studies performed in an accredited laboratory tend to be of higher quality, although lab accreditation is not mandatory.”

The biggest challenge, according to Dr. Cullen, is “attracting adequately trained sonographers in a tight labor market” in light of the emergence of novel ultrasound technologies, such as portable and miniature echocardiographic devices providing percutaneous and structural details with 3-D resolution.

The upcoming 28th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) to be held in Baltimore June 2-6 will focus on 3-D echocardiography, contrast echocardiography, critical care ultrasound, point-of-care ultrasound and diseases of the aorta. Specifically, innovations will focus on machine learning and robotic echo, new applications of ultrasound physics, Shear Wave imaging, fusion imaging, targeted therapeutic delivery applications in cancer, and target therapeutic delivery in ischemic heart disease, according to Geoffrey A. Rose, M.D., FACC, FASE, chief of cardiology, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute at Carolinas HealthCare System and the ASE program chair. “Innovative technologies such as ultrasound microbubble-based gene therapy combining imaging and therapeutic applications will be presented at the event.”

“As the technology advances and more data is collected and interpreted, it is critical that reimbursement rates support the longer and more comprehensive scanning and interpretation,” says Dr. Kort. “Echo procedures performed to guide various interventions are notoriously long and poorly reimbursed.”

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