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There are many tangibles and intangibles that promote and deliver quality in healthcare. Whether it’s strictly based on the documentation of clinical criteria or combined with data around delivering a world-class patient experience, there’s no substitution for providing the highest value possible in healthcare – and measuring it.

Capturing, documenting and reporting on outcomes in today’s healthcare environment is vitally important, especially as healthcare makes the transition from fee-for-service to value-based purchasing.

For radiology, quality metrics become a proactive demonstration of overall value to a health system as well as each individual service line, most of which rely on diagnostic or Interventional Radiology within the patient care continuum.

This realization comes at a time when patients expect more specialized care from their treating physician and more granular treatment of either acute or chronic conditions. The data is there; being able to extrapolate and decipher it to a meaningful, reportable level is key to quality success.

Quite frankly, the medical imaging field has largely ignored quality metrics for many years as radiologists have been seen as a commoditized resource within most hospitals. That day has changed. Consistently measuring and reporting on clinical care and outcomes go far beyond proving radiology’s “worth” in an integrated delivery network (IDN) – it is essential in bolstering quality outcomes across its entire system.

Simply put, radiology reflects how the patient experience – and outcomes – will go. Did a patient receive an appropriate imaging procedure? Did that test help determine a diagnosis? And, was the diagnosis given quickly and accurately so the best treatment could commence?

Developing a radiology quality measurement program that is proactive in providing metrics on a regular basis and built on best practices will fuel any health system’s quality program. Insights into accuracy, turnaround times and clinical operations will provide in-depth reviews for quality improvement and patient satisfaction.

To transition radiology into a core component of a quality program in a Center of Excellence (CoE) is truly a transformative event in a health system. The most successful models:

  • embrace elevating radiology’s position in the quality reporting framework seamlessly and safely
  • elevate imaging services to the forefront of their quality program
  • integrate radiology professionals more in line with the health system’s value-based strategy
  • engage radiologists as leaders able to identify and recommend appropriate metrics for measurement knowing they are involved with most cases presented in any clinical setting

Success also stems from infusing radiologists into a health system’s leadership team at a level not usually considered. Onsite radiology leaders belong to their hospital Medical Executive Committee (MEC), attend quality council meetings and participate with department leadership committees. This effort complements the system’s ability to treat patients more comprehensively while aligning radiology with its strategic quality goals.

Suddenly, radiologists are not only seen as part of the necessity of medical care, but as a primary source of care, especially as subspecialization may be required for complex cases through in-depth consultation with community physicians.

It’s an evolution that, done right, will see radiology deeply interwoven in a health system’s quality program. The results will include generating proactive reporting of metrics that lead to improved operational efficiency, higher levels of care and outcomes that can meet the requirements of value-based care reporting. Systemically, greater interaction among all clinical and administrative personnel of a healthcare system are accelerated and care is better coordinated.

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