Radiology needs to reassert their IT leadership

By Jon Mertz
09:50 AM

Radiology groups and imaging centers have been on the leading technology edge for many years. The leadership principles of radiology CEOs and CIOs shine in how they approach:
  • Documenting and streamlining workflows
  • Selecting and implementing technology to enable the workflows
  • Measuring the results and focusing on how to continue to enhance the workflows
The partnership between the operational, management, and technology teams is some of the best in health care. As David Avrin, M.D., Ph.D., vice-chair of informatics in the Department of Radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, states (RSNA News, February 2011):
“Radiologists have historically been at the forefront of HIT. We are the solution, not the problem.”
Recently, there has been a great deal of confusion on whether HITECH and Meaningful Use apply to radiology. This has resulted in many radiologists hesitating to make a decision on whether or not to participate in the current Meaningful Use initiatives. With this uncertainty, it is leading to a potential delay in adopting updated workflows and technologies to meet the new demands. The danger – radiology may fall behind the innovation and leadership curve.
Although radiology’s participation in the Meaningful Use program has been clarified, radiology groups still need to wake-up to the change and begin to lead again in demonstrating how IT and patient interaction can – and should – be done.
What is the value of having radiology engaged in Meaningful Use? Keith J. Dreyer, DO, PhD defined the value well in his recent testimony, on behalf of the American College of Radiology, to the Meaningful Use Workgroup of the HHS/ONC HIT Policy Committee:
“Suffice to say, a patient’s electronic record is incomplete without imaging data. Imaging data‐sharing falls directly in line with everyone’s shared goals of improved care coordination and engaging patients. Patients can have control over access to their imaging data through PHR technology and be free from worrying about lost films/CDs/DVDs/USBs as they move between providers. Furthermore, the problem of duplicative imaging is significantly reduced when referring physicians have access to a patient’s data and imaging history. Limiting unneccessary duplication significantly enhances patient safety (by limiting cumulative radiation exposure) and reduces costs.”
Dr. Dreyer is leading the call to radiologists to take notice of Meaningful Use and get engaged sooner rather than later. He also is spearheading efforts to refine the Meaningful Use requirements to be more attuned to the unique elements of radiology. Check out his testimony to the ONC HIT Policy Committee (PDF) to learn more.
Now is the time for radiology groups and practices to:
  • Review the Meaningful Use guidelines
  • Identify the gaps between current state and required state
  • Develop a plan for action
  • Gain commitment from the radiology leadership team


Jon Mertz currently serves as the vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. His experience consists of a unique industry mix of healthcare software, IT infrastructure, sales & marketing consulting, and government. Jon has led several marketing organizations, conducting market research, developing customer programs, and working with partners to deliver complete customer solutions. Past companies and organizations include Deloitte, IBM, BMC Software, US Senate, and US Department of Commerce. He blogs at