The Solution: Implementing Medicare Quality Standards for Advanced Medical Imaging
The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends a number of measures to ensure the highest quality diagnostic imaging services, while saving taxpayers urgently needed Medicare dollars. These measures are similar to those that have been used with great success by private payers.
Quality standards work. Federal standards already protect women undergoing mammography, and private payers such as UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Tufts Health Plan, and Blue Cross Blue Shield are effectively using quality standards to control costs and prevent risks from poor and inappropriate MRI, CT, and PET scans. Harnessing the market power of CMS as the nation’s largest health purchaser would greatly bolster the impact of these private sector efforts. Clearly, Medicare patients deserve the same protection and assurances as people who are insured privately when undergoing advanced medical imaging procedures.
To be effective, Medicare quality standards must include:
- Annual evaluations of certified imaging facilities by a qualified medical physicist. With new technology and equipment becoming available at a rapid rate, annual, on-site survey of imaging equipment by a recognized, trained professional will help ensure patient safety and security.
- Training and accreditation program for medical imaging. To ensure the highest patient safety, a training program should be established to appropriately license or certify all physicians and technical personnel who wish to perform CT, MRI, or PET examinations and an accreditation program should be established for imaging facilities that provide these services.
- Certified medical imagers conduct or supervise all advanced imaging procedures. Certified medical imagers should always supervise and interpret the clinical imaging examinations of Medicare patients.
The Benefit: Billions in Savings, Better Patient Care
Establishing quality standards for advanced medical imaging will save taxpayers billions of dollars and improve Medicare patient care. The ACR estimates that quality standards will save approximately $5 billion in Medicare costs over the next decade, lead to significant additional savings in Medicaid and private sector expense, and simultaneously improve the quality of patient care for all Americans.