Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant
Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant

Greg Freiherr has reported on developments in radiology since 1983. He runs the consulting service, The Freiherr Group.

Blog | Greg Freiherr, Industry Consultant | October 11, 2012

Cutting Costs Through Technology

With its million-dollar scanners and their mushrooming use in recent years, medical imaging has become the poster child for high-cost medicine. While it’s a role no one in our community wants, the opportunity exists to put imaging at the forefront of healthcare cost-cutting. We need only look backward to see how to move forward.

Look back a couple of decades to the 1990s, when positron emission tomography (PET) was pioneering new ground and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) was a poor man’s PET. What we learned could be done with PET was often soon attempted by SPECT, which was seen as less accurate and less capable, but also less expensive. The dearth of cyclotrons and a lack of reimbursement so curtailed PET’s use that its advocates had no choice but to path-find. Much has changed.

Now hybridized with computed tomography (CT), PET sets the pace for improvements in clinical practice and, unfortunately, rising costs. SPECT/CT could be the answer. New biomarkers and the technology to deliver extraordinary accuracy in SPECT imaging and quantification are nearing the marketplace. Their application in the years ahead might reduce costs and improve patient care by optimizing the utilization of SPECT and PET.

This is just one example of how costs might be reined in through the smarter application of technologies. There are others. Enormous gains might be achieved by making better use of patient images already in hand. One way is through improved communication.

Images have never been easier to send from radiologists to specialists to referring physicians. The exclusions in this mix are patients, whose control over their own images might increase efficiency in care and optimizing imaging exams themselves. Portals that provide patient access are well within reach of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS). If patients could routinely assign access to specialists, not only would consultations be easier and faster, but also unnecessary exams — with their costs and, in the case of CT, radiation burden — might be dramatically reduced.

Many critics of the current healthcare system rightly bemoan the practice of defensive medicine, inefficient insurance procedures and the epidemic of preventable conditions — most notably obesity — that do much to make medical practice in the United States the most expensive in the world. But when critics point their fingers at medical imaging, we should — and could — have answers. All we need do is look at technology already well within our reach.  

Related Content

Phase III response to the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) CARES Act signed into law #CARESAct #COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2
Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | March 28, 2020 | By Melinda Taschetta-Millane
On March 27, the House of Representatives approved a historic $2
In the light of the coronavirus outbreak, MILabs has enhanced its line of high-performance CT scanners to even better detect the disease #COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2
News | Computed Tomography (CT) | March 27, 2020
March 27, 2020 — Based on recent scientific research, diagnostic X-ray...
AI vendor Infervision's InferRead CT Pneumonia software uses artificial intelligence-assisted diagnosis to improve the overall efficiency of the radiology department. It is being developed in China as a high sensitivity detection aid for novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19). #COVID19 #coronavirus #SARScov2

AI vendor Infervision's InferRead CT Pneumonia software uses artificial intelligence-assisted diagnosis to improve the overall efficiency of the radiology department. It is being developed in China as a high sensitivity detection aid for novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19).

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | March 27, 2020 | Jilian Liu, M.D., HIMSS Greater China
An older couple walked into the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine near their neigh
#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2

Typical CT imaging features for COVID-19. Unenhanced, thin-section axial images of the lungs in a 52-year-old man with a positive RT-PCR (A-D) show bilateral, multifocal rounded (asterisks) and peripheral GGO (arrows) with superimposed interlobular septal thickening and visible intralobular lines (“crazy-paving”). Routine screening CT for diagnosis or exclusion of COVID-19 is currently not recommended by most professional organizations or the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Image courtesy of RSNA

News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | March 26, 2020
March 26, 2020 — The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA
Novel scanners may open door for prognostic assessment in patients receiving cochlear implants

Iva Speck, MD, explains research showing that novel, fully digital, high-resolution positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging of small brain stem nuclei can provide clinicians with valuable information concerning the auditory pathway in patients with hearing impairment. The research is featured in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine (read more at http://jnm.snmjournals.org/content/current). Video courtesy of Iva Speck, University Hospital Freiburg, Germany.

News | PET-CT | March 26, 2020
March 26, 2020 — Novel, fully digital, high-resolution...
#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2
News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | March 25, 2020
March 25, 2020 — According to a statement on March 24 from Commissioner of Food and Drugs - Food and Drug Administrat
#COVID19 #Coronavirus #2019nCoV #Wuhanvirus #SARScov2
News | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | March 24, 2020
March 24, 2020 — The U.S.