In their review, a team led by Dr. Jessica Porembka of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas outlined areas of opportunity for radiologists to improve patient care and offered specific advice. to do this, emphasizing the urgency of the involvement of radiologists.
“Given the limited engagement of radiologists in population health management to date, it is imperative to define the specialty’s population health management priorities so that the full value of radiologists in the improvement in the health of the population is achieved,” the team wrote.
Population health management efforts aim to establish structures of care to support better patient health outcomes, and they can address delivery of care, reduce inappropriate use of imaging, increase adherence to treatment and treatment protocols and reduce length of hospital stays. Radiology offers many opportunities to interact with patients at key points in their care, from screening and diagnostic imaging to image-guided treatments.
“The presence of radiologists at the intersection of many aspects of health care … provides the opportunity for increased engagement of radiologists in population health management,” the team wrote.
Porembka and colleagues described a variety of opportunities that radiologists can exploit, many of which are screening events:
- Breast cancer screening. “Breast cancer screening programs are well suited to be integrated into organizations’ population health management efforts,” the team wrote.
- Lung cancer screening. “Given that only 2% of eligible people undergo lung cancer screening, radiologists have the opportunity to positively influence health outcomes by championing these programs through a multidisciplinary collaborative approach,” the authors noted.
- Screening for colorectal cancer. “Radiology-based screening and surveillance of abdominal aortic aneurysms has life-saving implications and may prompt early intervention to influence population health management,” the group wrote.
- Fortuitous discoveries. “Appropriate management of incidental findings may benefit patients by facilitating earlier treatment,” Porembka and colleagues wrote.
- Opportunistic imagery. “The potential impact of opportunistic imaging is significant given that the leading causes of adult death in the United States (coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can all be identified through diagnostic imaging. “, noted the team.
- Address the relevance of imagery. “Reducing unnecessary imaging while advocating for appropriate imaging is another way radiologists can help optimize the role of imaging in population health management,” the authors wrote.
The team also offered five suggestions for how radiologists can engage in population health management through the following imaging encounters:
- Educate radiologists about population health management efforts and the role they can play through webinars, CME, and leadership training.
- Encourage participation in multidisciplinary networking programs such as the American College of Radiology (ACR) Radiology Leadership Institute, RSNA, or the Association of University of Radiologists’ Radiology Alliance for Health Services Research.
- Build relationships with hospital administration, accountable care organizations and payers and collaborate on population health programs.
- Use information and quality assurance systems to improve patient care.
- Leverage value-based care structures to support population health programs.
Radiologists have important contributions to make to the healthcare enterprise, according to the team.
“Population health management programs benefit from interdisciplinary collaboration between radiologists and other health care professionals, health system administrators, and legislative decision makers,” the group concluded. “The commitment and leadership of radiologists can play a central role in the success of [these] initiative. »
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