Radiology Review: 2016 and the Year Ahead

December is here, the weather is frightful, the election is over, and we are all talking to our friends and family again.  2016 has been a crazy year to say the least, but what has 2016 been for the world of Radiology? Here are the trends we saw this year, and what we see in the future for 2017.

The End of Film

Though most facilities are already all digital, 2016 was truly the end of the film age. All facilities, large and small, not using digital radiography will be hit with 20 percent reimbursement reductions beginning January 1, 2017.

shutterstock_383150944Healthcare providers, as usual, are being forced to make a call. Let’s be honest though–not many small facilities would be able to keep up with that hit.

Breast Screening

Breast screening remained on the forefront in 2016. In January, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) stuck to their guidance from 2009, declining recommended screening for women in their 40s, but not for women 50 to 74.

Luckily for now this is not affecting Medicare reimbursement for younger women, and congress is waiting two years while the issue is more thoroughly researched.

Although the debate rages on, women’s imaging continued to evolve in 2016 with further research in MRI, CT, and Tomosynthesis.

Ultrasound Elastography

Tumor imaging is the perfect application of elastography. According to Dr. Levon Nazarian, “Elastography is particularly suited to finding firm structures in tissues that are less firm.”

He continued to say that elastography is perfect for breast tissue due to its natural soft tissue, making it easy to identify those tougher tissues. It is now also being used for assessing thyroid and liver nodules. Dr. Nazarian states that hepatologists are very interested in determining the level of fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis. Thanks to the growth in manufacturers, this is now more readily available to medical facilities.

CT Lung Cancer Screening

2016 was the first full year reimbursement was available for CT lung cancer screening by Medicare and Medicaid.

As new screening sites joined the CMS registry for the sake of facility monitoring (results such as radiation dose), researchers gained more data in 2016 for reporting and classifying findings. As this continues to become a more frequent practice, we will see if CT lung screening will experience the same great debate as breast cancer screening. shutterstock_309039953

Analytics

In 2016, radiology (and most others) turned to data. With the medical world shifting more towards customer service as a competitive edge, many facilities turned to analytic solutions.

Medicine will continue to become more data-driven, with machine-driven technology that will continue to evolve.

What’s Ahead for Radiology

In 2017, we will continue to see advancements in each of these areas, but the big push will be in healthcare IT.

A majority of healthcare organizations increased or are increasing their budgets for 2017–improving patient tools and continuing the evolution of patient-centered care.

Interoperability will continue to be at the forefront. Technology systems and software applications need to being to work seamlessly for data to exchanged quickly and easily, and enterprise imaging solutions will be at the forefront.

So, here are our best wishes for an excellent 2017!

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