More Insight on "Not All Images Are Created Equal"

The Huffington Post—August 19, 2009

by Helene Pavlov, MD, FACR
Hospital for Special Surgery

One of the key reasons health care is exploding is linked to medical imaging. The predominant factor in this explosion is related to the penchant of non-radiology owned, private practices and imaging centers toward self referral. Self referral is perpetuated by patient convenience and a "one stop shopping" concept. However, underlying this statement is the incentive for non-radiology physicians to increase the bottom line of their practice. Compounding this process is the fact that the vendors of medical equipment make it appealing for a private practice to purchase its own imaging equipment. RT Image wanted to know if this is a new trend or if it has always been easy for non-radiologists to purchase their own equipment.

My response included the following:

[Untrained physicians] feel as though there's a magic button that they will press that will give them an image, and they will rely on either the technologist or the sonographer to get the image; expertise and quality control parameters for image acquisition may or may not exist within their practice.

Non-radiology physicians do not get extensive training in imaging and their certification boards do not test for imaging expertise. Patients, and possibly third-party payers, are not always informed accordingly and may not be aware of the importance and difficulty of achieving quality images. They may also not recognize the difference between the interpretations of a radiologist who does not self refer and those of a non-radiologist physician who may benefit by generating the need for additional self referred imaging examinations.

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