The result is a clearer picture of the quality of each imaging scan, allowing for continuous quality improvement and encouraging greater accountability on the part of the rendering provider. "Patients benefit from initiatives that allow consumers to make informed decisions about where they can receive the best possible care", stated Michael Pentecost, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, National Imaging Associates. "This is consistent with the momentum you're seeing in Washington DC, as our entire industry adjusts to the concepts of benchmarking and pay-for-performance."
The technology behind the "Image Quality Collaborative" integrates seamlessly with the imaging centre's existing computer hardware and software without interrupting or disturbing standard office work flow. This will allow the programme to be 100 percent automated and remain completely unintrusive to the radiologist's daily routine.
"In order for this programme to succeed, we knew we needed to develop technology that could work 'behind-the-scenes' and allow the imaging professionals to conduct business as-usual", stated Derek Danois, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Digital Medical Archive. "We also recognized that the programme had to deliver very tangible bottom-line results that would validate an imaging centre's participation."
Within two hours of each scan, thousands of data elements are collected automatically. These data elements are then analysed, measured and compared against national standards and protocols established by the American College of Radiology and other regulatory bodies. Within a matter of hours, the imaging centre receives electronic access to thorough reports on these analyses, providing the opportunity for real-time quality assessment and improvement.
"The real-time feedback helps to close a loop that had previously been unaddressed", Derek Danois stated. "In the past, any variability across imaging equipment, modalities, or staff may have been difficult for the centre to track or assess. The facilities now have the education and remediation resources they need to improve their quality and strengthen their centre's performance and competitive edge."
In reviewing the clinical components of the initiative, Dr. Pentecost also pointed out the consistency of the "Image Quality Collaborative" with the Comparative Effectiveness Research Act of 2008, currently under Congressional review.
"The authors of this legislation acknowledged that doctors and patients need reliable, unbiased information to determine the best care possible", Dr. Pentecost stated. "They also found that this data is often scarce and disorganized. But with research, transparency, and accountability, patients and their doctors can make better decisions on treatment, allowing us to improve outcomes and also lower costs. That is precisely the intent of our initiative."
The two organisations are currently reaching out to freestanding imaging centres in select markets. The goal is to secure a cross-section of participating imaging centres to validate the effectiveness and seamless use of the technology, while also establishing core benchmarks for image quality and related metrics. There will be no cost for participating imaging centres.
Headquartered in Avon, Connecticut, National Imaging Associates leads the radiology benefits management industry by delivering innovative solutions to effectively manage the cost and quality of diagnostic imaging. National Imaging Associates is a subsidiary of Magellan Health Services Inc.
National Digital Medical Archive (NDMA), a recognized expert in clinical intelligence and clinical performance management solutions, provides cutting-edge products and services that streamline the delivery and sharing of health care information among health care providers, payers and patients. Established in 2003, NDMA is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. More company news is available in the VMW December 2008 article Carestream Health and NDMA announce collaboration for provision of eHealth and analytics services.