Yes, Radiology Can (And Should) Benefit from Clinical Decision Support

Did you know that 25 percent of all advanced imaging services are clinically inappropriate? If you didn’t, you’ve probably had an inkling about it and likely have experienced it yourself.

This wastes time and money, causes unnecessary use of radiation, and devalues radiological services.

This is just one of the problems that clinical decision support (CDS – yes, that one) is meant to solve.

And this isn’t just for imaging centers—it applies to all advanced imaging including CT, MRI, and NM in ambulatory care facilities defined as the following:

  • Medical outpatient centers
  • Hospital outpatient centers
  • Comprehensive centers
  • Imaging centers
  • Hospital-based emergency department

All of the above facilities are required to use a CDS system under Meaningful Use stage 3. Without evidence of CDS being used in the process, claims will be denied. This means no payment for both technical and clinical services.

shutterstock_242053237And they’re not playing. There is talk of Medicare mandating providers to use CDS by 2020 or be penalized.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. First of all, there is no actual deadline yet for CDS implementation—although 2020 is the rumored date. This means that you have plenty of time to get ready for it. In fact, this is a great opportunity to get a leg up on the competition and give yourself and your imaging facility a few great benefits.

In fact, instead of just another instance of government getting too involved, CDS has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to the entire healthcare industry. Here’s how you as a radiologist can turn a potentially intimidating negative into an intense positive for you and your facility!

In his ACR discussion “Aligning CDS with Value Based Strategy,” Dr. Daniel Durand explained that implementing CDS can potentially provide imaging facilities with some pretty excellent benefits, including (1) improved referring physician relationships, (2) an increase in referring physicians, and (3) an increase in patient volume. Be open to seeing benefits from using a CDS system.

Improved relationships with referring physicians

Radiologists can get referring physicians on board early in the process to collaborate on types of exams. Ask them what they need when it comes to referring studies. The physician (and/or their office) will love you for it.

Asking for your referring physicians’ input is also an opportunity to educate them about things like radiation dosage—if the patient has had a lot of exams, the physician will get a notification warning them. You can help explain that to them.

Increase in referring physicians

Your imaging center will, in time, see an increase in referring physicians. This is partially due to the way you can include them in the clinical decision support system. It provides referring physicians and their facilities with a way to circumvent something they very much dislike: pre-authorization from insurance companies.

As mentioned in part one of our CDS blog post series, Dr. Durand also noted that physicians are accepting of CDS, as it allows them to move away from the drawn out pre-authorization process.

Clinical Decision Support
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Increase in patient volumes

Here’s the really fun one—more patients. This is a cascading effect from the increase in referring physicians, which will enable your facility to provide better treatment in the future due to the increase in income that comes with an increase in patients.

You can take control of the CDS situation and own it, and this is a journey that Novarad is here to help you with. As imaging professionals, we have a responsibility to help reduce that 25 percent of unnecessary exams.

To learn more about CDS, visit and read our previous blog post, which you can find here.

This post was written by Kristi Alvarado, marketing and public relations specialist at Novarad.

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Hello, I'm Kristi!

I am the Editor for the Novarad Newsletter, curating and creating

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