ACR Offers Headache Imaging Guidelines to Avoid Costly Scans

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, PACS

Often, patients will arrive at the emergency department with headaches that leave them crippled with pain and concerned that it is a serious health issue. Although there are symptoms that physicians check for to indicate the severity of the ailment, they may jump to medical imaging exams as a viable solution.

However, according to an article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, uncomplicated and primary headaches do not require imaging scans for definitive diagnoses, Diagnostic Imaging reported. Using the ACR's Appropriateness Criteria, the organization's authors – led by Annette Douglas, M.D., and Franz Wippold, M.D. – explained that, while general head pain does not necessarily constitute imaging, certain red flags may suggest further examination with CT or MRI.

"Several studies have confirmed the low yield of imaging procedures for individuals presenting with isolated headache, i.e., headache unaccompanied by other neurological findings," wrote the authors, quoted by the news source. "Therefore, when considering a common disorder, such as headache, indications for imaging become relevant."

While physicians can conduct physical examinations to determine symptomatic behavior of acute headaches, there are red flags that can narrow down their treatment options. These include:

  • Headache associated with trauma
  • Abrupt onset of pain
  • Discomfort radiating to the neck
  • Persistent and positional pain
  • Temporal pain in older patients

However, there are certain patients who may benefit from imaging, such as:

  • Pregnant women
  • Cancer patients
  • Individuals with systemic illnesses, including hypercoagulable disorders
  • Headaches associated with exertions or sexual activity

ABIM offers insight for headache imaging
The ACR is not alone in supplying information to doctors on appropriate imaging protocols for patients with headaches. Choosing Wisely, an initiative of the American Board of Internal Medicine, seeks to educate radiologists and other digital imaging experts on the proper guidelines for ordering CT and MRI scans for severe head pain.

A major complication of ordering scans, beyond the associated costs to patients and care centers, is that they can show something that appears to be dangerous but, in actuality, is not. Minor twists in a blood vessel may lead to a false positive diagnosis of an aneurysm, while a prominent area of the brain may be mistaken for a malignant tumor. As a result, these risks could lead to increased anxiety, extensive and unnecessary follow-up exams, and expensive consultations with neurology specialists.

In order to avoid overuse of equipment that could prove costly for everyone involved, radiologists should follow the guidelines provided by the ACR and ABIM.

Contact Viztek for more information.

Proposed Rule from CMS Includes Payment Cuts to Radiation Oncology

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, PACS

Recently, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced amendments to the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The ruling typically affects health care providers’ reimbursement for rendered services, but managed to skip over medical imaging to impact radiation oncology.

According to AuntMinnie.com, the MPFS for 2015 has targeted the treatment method for additional payment cuts in the coming six months. Under the proposed rule, this service’s reimbursements would be cut by 4 percent, while payments to radiation therapy centers would be slashed by 8 percent. While there is no clear cut answer as to why this modality has fallen under the axe of CMS, it may be that the agency feels the service is overvalued.

Proposed Rule from CMS Includes Payment Cuts to Radiation Oncology

Proposed Rule from CMS Includes Payment Cuts to Radiation Oncology

Radiologists Can Improve Services Through Data and Patient Consultations

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, EHR

With the introduction of electronic medical records and the Meaningful Use program from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care providers have become inundated with comprehensive health data. Radiologists now play a more pivotal role in the coordination of care, offering direct insight into treatment strategies for certain conditions and injuries.

FierceMedicalImaging explained that there are several keys to maintaining profitability in a diagnostic radiology practice, but making informed decisions using data can be integral to the process. From hiring the right fits for staff members to developing a steady revenue cycle, collected information facilitates practice management. But it can be difficult to determine how to accumulate and leverage data.

Radiologists Can Improve Services Through Data and Patient Consultations

Radiologists Can Improve Services Through Data and Patient Consultations

Viztek RIS/PACS Integration With EMR Increases Efficiency at Maui Medical Group

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in News & Events

Hawaii’s Largest Multi-Specialty Group Replaces Legacy PACS and RIS With Viztek Opal

RALEIGH, NC–(Jul 8, 2014) - Viztek, the leading provider of complete digital software and hardware diagnostic imaging solutions, announced today that Maui Medical Group, Maui, Hawaii, has completed installation of Viztek’s RIS and PACS, including the innate ability to diagnose full field digital mammography exams. By integrating Viztek’s Opal-RIS and Opal-PACS with the facilities existing EMR and PM solutions, Maui Medical Group has decreased study viewing and reporting times for radiologists, and decreased redundant data entry for staff. Viztek has also added remote portal access for referring physicians, enabling full access from any location of all RIS/PACS and EMR information.

Yearly Medicare Mammography Spending on the Rise

Written by Mark Dobbs on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, Hardware

Developments in medical imaging technology, such as low-dose computed tomography scans, have led to improvements in health outcomes for patients. Women at-risk of breast cancer have benefited from these innovations, but data shows that mammograms integrated with new technology have not directly resulted in better detection rates of early stage tumors.

However, expenses for these exams have grown considerably in the last decade, as Medicare spending has risen by roughly 50 percent since the early 2000s, HealthImaging reported. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute analyzed the mammography utilization rates, cancer detection and spending among Medicare beneficiaries aged 66 years or older.

Yearly Medicare Mammography Spending on the Rise

Yearly Medicare Mammography Spending on the Rise

Clinical Tech May Be Interfering with Physical Exams

Written by Ryan Everhart on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, PACS

For years, health care providers relied on the combination of physical exams and PACS technology to accurately identify and diagnose various diseases. However, new modalities such as telemedicine may be making physicals obsolete.

According to HealthcareITNews, physicians’ abilities to use physical exams for accurate diagnoses is starting to wane. Rather than glean meaningful information from blood vessels in the eye, a patient’s gait or checking fingernails, doctors are becoming increasingly reliant on clinical technology to diagnose patients.

Clinical Tech May Be Interfering with Physical Exams

Clinical Tech May Be Interfering with Physical Exams

Missouri is 18th State to Enact Breast Density Notification Laws

Written by Mark Dobbs on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, Hardware

In the last year, radiologists have seen considerable strides being made toward expanding treatment options for women at risk of developing breast cancer. The concern over breast density has grown, leading to a need for standards on notifying individuals if they are susceptible to malignancies.

According to Diagnostic Imaging, density notification laws have been put into effect in 18 states so far, with 14 having legislation introduced by government officials. These laws require that physicians distribute alerts to women who have undergone mammograms, with results indicating that they have dense breast tissue. The purpose of these notices is to give patients the necessary information to determine their next course of action.

Missouri is 18th State to Enact Breast Density Notification Laws

Missouri is 18th State to Enact Breast Density Notification Laws

Radiologists Need to Closely Monitor Pediatric CT Doses

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, Hardware

Because their bodies are still developing, children are highly susceptible to the effects of radiation exposure. When undergoing medical imaging procedures, it is imperative that radiologists ensure that younger patients are protected from the potential damaging effects of the equipment.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. have pediatric dose reduction standards for head CT, but there are variations among the facilities based on specific characteristics, HealthImaging explained. Researchers from the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, led by Janessa Graves, Ph.D., M.P.H., distributed surveys to 751 hospitals to measure the efficacy of these regulations.

Radiologists Need to Closely Monitor Pediatric CT Doses

Radiologists Need to Closely Monitor Pediatric CT Doses

Study Shows That Reading Volumes Increase Breast Cancer Detection

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, PACS

The process of tomosynthesis has been popular in medical imaging, with radiologists aiming to increase their efficiencies with detecting cancerous growths and reduce recall rates with patients. A new study has shown that utilizing this modality in combination with digital mammography leads to better clinical performance and health outcomes.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois, reviewed data from 13 health centers and compared the results for women screened for breast cancer both before and after the introduction of tomosynthesis. Led by Sarah Friedewald, M.D., the physicians evaluated more than 450,000 records to measure the efficacy of the procedure in detecting breast cancer, FierceMedicalImaging reported.

Study Shows That Reading Volumes Increase Breast Cancer Detection

Study Shows That Reading Volumes Increase Breast Cancer Detection

CT Shown to Improve Physician Relations, Stroke Victim Prognoses

Written by Ronny Bacharach on . Posted in Digital Radiography and PACS, Hardware

With advancements in medical imaging, the efficacy of diagnostics has experienced a significant overhaul. Improved PACS rely on modern-day technology to not only provide clearer images of the human body, but also deliver them at a lower radiation dose with fewer instances of repeated exams.

Radiologists and patients are not alone in witnessing these benefits firsthand, as surgeons also can conduct better procedures because of bolstered imaging techniques. According to Diagnostic Imaging, the relationships between surgeons and radiologists often puts them together in the operating room to ensure that results are leveraged accurately during the operation. Working in tandem, these physicians can ensure that the quality of care being delivered to patients is fully optimized.

CT Shown to Improve Physician Relations, Stroke Victim Prognoses

CT Shown to Improve Physician Relations, Stroke Victim Prognoses

Sign up for our Newsletter