by John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | May 20, 2019
Covera Health has joined with Walmart in a multi-year, strategic collaboration aimed at helping patients receive the right quality of care and avoid inaccurate radiology diagnoses that can lead to misguided and unnecessary treatments.
The stimulus for this partnership stems from research showing discrepancies in the accuracy of radiology exams among different providers, leading to variations in diagnosis and prescribed treatment. The findings contrast with a long-held belief among patients and health insurers that no variability in quality exists in radiology care, leading many to place cost and convenience first in their selection of imaging centers.
"Covera has what we describe as our Quality Care Collaborative, which is our relationships with providers across the country. The aim is to help those providers measure quality and offer them an understanding of the quality that they’re achieving, all of which is aimed toward helping them improve the quality they are delivering to their patients," Ron Vianu, CEO of Covera Health, told HCB News. "Walmart is making this program available to its members when they require advanced imaging. If a Walmart employee requires an MR of the brain, Walmart would help make available a Covera Health-certified imaging center if there’s one in their community, so the employee can, hopefully, get the most accurate diagnosis and then the best care subsequent to that."
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One blind study that fueled Walmart and Covera’s decision to embark on this endeavor involved a low-back MR exam performed by 10 different radiology centers on a single 63-year old patient. Each one returned a different result that could have led to different treatment plans for the patient.
As confirmed by multiple, independent studies, a wrong diagnosis risks delaying the start of effective treatment or could affect the patient’s quality of life and outcomes negatively if they were to undergo the wrong surgical procedure.
To address this discrepancy, Walmart associates and dependents on the company’s health plan now have access to Covera Health’s Radiology Centers of Excellence Program which directs patients automatically to best-in-class care. Made up of a nationwide network of radiologists, it provides ongoing quality assurance and monitoring with actionable feedback to physicians, and improved health outcomes for patients, a fact backed by seven years of clinical data showing that the network delivers more accurate diagnoses on a consistent basis.