Population Health Demands Clearer Standards for Radiology

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , July 18, 2013

Eliminating radiology errors also is a major concern among hospital officials. The error rate in procedures can range from 4.4% to 9.2%, according to Radisphere.

Error rates have a significant impact on downstream healthcare costs that will gain urgency under healthcare reform and new delivery models, Weiss says. By implementing the standards-based programs, the hospital has reduced errors, he adds. And the healthcare system has established peer review programs to ensure that radiologists are accountable for their work.

NCE did an extensive review of its radiology programs, looking for significant discrepancies and potential errors. In an evaluation of 47,000 cases, officials found discrepancies in 40 cases, a .08% rate, Weiss says.

"We'd like it to be zero, but stuff is going to happen. But .08% is still reasonable." When any problems are identified, Weiss notes, "Results have been communicated back to the referral physician by the reading radiologist to ensure the communication loop has been closed."

"You need standards," Neal says of radiology programs. "Most [healthcare leaders] will pause and say, 'I have standards." But when Neal says he talks to healthcare leaders about standards, he finds many hospitals lack efficiency clauses in contracts with radiology groups.

"You need to write it down and say what you need from radiology. You have to say what your objectives are."

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.
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