Medical diagnostic imaging encompasses many expensive testing procedures, including MRI and CT scans, representing one of most integral components in medicine and certainly one of the fastest growing healthcare expenses in the United States Workers’ Compensation sector.

As I described in last week’s article, “Right Radiologist, Right Read, Right Results”, it is imperative that any radiology services management system embrace the latest available technology to ensure success in the imaging process for injured workers. That starts with a system that manages the entire continuum of care from centralized automation of the request, to accredited state of the art radiology centers, and ending with an advanced and credible method to store and share electronic data regarding the imaging results.

The inefficiency of the present system ranging from delayed treatment to misdiagnosis has created a greater demand for improvement in workflow process, administrative costs, decision-making, treatment process and information quality. Fortunately, we have technology available to us today to significantly improve this process.

We know that quality diagnostic testing helps yield a proper diagnosis the first time. Quality imaging done right, the first time, results in lower medical costs, reduced lost work time, and increased employee productivity. New technology such as our computerized Modality Appropriateness Criteria allows us to carefully identify and channel patients to the most appropriate facility ensuring the best possible scan for the injury .

Innovative on-demand process management systems and web portals represent genuine progress by streamlining communications and reducing administrative overhead. Costs have spiraled out of control due to unmanaged utilization, overbilling by providers, and poor quality studies performed by unqualified providers. Next generation online radiology management services offer real-time coordination through adaptable, automated technology to meet each customer’s needs. Web-based technology provides for centralized scheduling of patients and services, electronic billing and payment services. Additionally, diagnostic imaging appointments can then be scheduled at the appropriate imaging center the same or next day, compared to the industry average of 7-21 days.

Another benefit to automation is it takes away the guesswork while expediting services. A centralized electronic, advanced scheduling system eliminates costly administrative layers, saving money for payers, increasing reimbursement for providers, and enhancing quality of patient care. An ordering physician’s use and appropriateness of diagnostic testing can be tracked so that a trusted subset of providers can be created. This also helps reduce the need for a costly and time-consuming utilization review. Data for all transactions, such as calls, appointments, claims and finance, can be consolidated and easily maintained.

Teleradiology facilitates low-cost efficiency, security and quality. The secure digital storage and transmission of radiological patient images, such as CTs and MRIs, from one location to another for interpretation and/or consultation serves two main purposes: images are readily available to the appropriate specialist, sub-specialist — or for a second opinion — meaning they can pull up an image on their computer, regardless of the location of the imaging center. Instant access eliminates the need to ship a disk or film through the mail, or to send a fax, both modalities create time delays, can degenerate the image and risk patient privacy violations.

Today, we can leverage this progressive healthcare management technology to deliver and process higher quality results. . At a time when an estimated 40%-50% of diagnostic tests are typically deemed inaccurate or unnecessary, this new generation technology identifies the right radiologists for the right situation optimizing delivery of an accurate diagnosis the first time. Physicians, medical directors and managed care professionals are also able to make expedited decisions by creating a roadmap for patient treatment and ensuring that treatment plan is implemented correctly and quickly. Patients experience better outcomes and total costs are lowered.

Using the right technology effectively streamlines medical imaging management and delivery systems allowing radiology management service companies to save time and money for constituents. With advanced technologies companies get the information they need. The system spreads the information to support doctors, patients receive the most effective health care support for their situation and return to work sooner, and employers and insurers save tens of thousands of dollars in workers’ compensation costs and unnecessary medical fees. Technological advances will continue to have the most significant impact on improving the delivery of quality information and treatment in diagnostic imaging.

About Liz Griggs
Liz Griggs is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and founder of NextImage Medical Inc. (NIM), which she created as an answer to the waste and escalating costs common to the diagnostic imaging industry. Prior to establishing NIM Griggs founded and later sold the largest radiology preferred provider organization (PPO) in the workers’ compensation market. Previously, Griggs worked in the Boston and New York City offices of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenerette (DLJ) with clients that included large physician management groups and healthcare investment funds. Prior to joining DLJ, she provided healthcare financing products for The Bank of Boston, including lending and recapitalization financing.

About NextImage Medical
Next Image MedicalNextImage Medical is the technology leader in radiology services management, providing workers’ compensation insurance carriers, third party administrators and self-insured employers with the highest quality, fastest and most cost-effective solutions to manage workers’ compensation costs. Based in San Diego, NextImage Medical’s next generation of radiology management services features teleradiology and a digital archiving system, improving diagnosis and treatment, reducing the time from imaging to diagnosis and treatment, and lowering workers’ compensation costs. NextImage Medical also offers the advanced Electrodiagnostic Management Services (EDX), which uses a network of board-certified specialists at contracted rates to guarantee quality and reduce the likelihood of having repeat or unnecessary tests. For more information visit www.NextImageMedical.com.