Why Integrating EMRs And Digital Images Is An Ethical And Practical Imperative

Andrew Litt | Computerworld | November 13, 2013

We've all been there. Following an injury, you or a family member gets an X-ray or MRI but when you follow up with a specialist a few weeks later, he or she can't access the study (unless, of course, you made a special trip to pick up a CD from the other care provider). In this age of rapid-fast information sharing, it's hard to understand why this still happens. 

As a radiologist, I’ve closely watched the movement among my colleagues that is being referred to as “accountable imaging.” The term refers to the idea that all those involved in diagnostic imaging should be accountable for both the effect of the study on patient outcome and the cost of imaging services. This began as a response to a steep increase in imaging seen between 2000 and 2006, when Medicare imaging costs doubled, from $5.92 billion to $11.91 billion. Several studies indicated that too much of the testing was done inappropriately, exposing patients to unnecessary radiation and follow-up procedures. Since then, a nationwide effort to educate physicians (Choosing Wisely, a multispecialty initiative) on appropriate use of imaging studies helped drive  a decrease in Medicare imaging spending, dropping to $9.45 billion by 2010.