If 2013 is anything like 2012, it should be an interesting one for medical imaging professionals. Between the fallout from the medical device tax, the ongoing debate over the risks/rewards of breast cancer screening and an increasing trend to go mobile, radiologists, no doubt, will have their hands full.
Here are five trends worth keeping an eye on over the next 12 months.
Radiology compensation rates remaining stagnant: While seven or eight years ago the specialty was seeing double-digit compensation increases, that's all changed over the last several years. In 2011, radiology compensation levels actually decreased, according to the 2012 American Medical Group Compensation and Financial Survey. "A plateau is occurring," said Brad Vaudrey, principal at Sullivan, Cotter & Associates, the firm that administered the AMGA survey, in an article last month in RSNA News. Vaudrey added that while he doesn't expect to see compensation decreases going forward, he does expect to continue to see flat numbers.
The debate about the value of mammographic screening continuing: That debate intensified at the end of 2012 with the publication of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Gilbert Welch and Archie Bleyer arguing that mammography screening leads to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. The article was severely criticized by mammography advocates, with Daniel Kopans, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital calling it "junk science" in an article published in the Boston Globe.
Mobile device use on the rise in radiology: Several surveys over the past year have pointed to an increased use of mobile devices by medical professionals, most notably a Manhattan Research survey in May 2012 and the 2nd Annual HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey published in December. The Manhattan Research survey found that 62 percent of physicians use mobile devices in their daily practice, doubling the adoption rate since 2011. According to the HIMSS survey, meanwhile, three-fourths of responding organizations said they would use more mobile devices in the future.
The increased use of such devices seems to be enhancing the relationship between radiologists and referring physicians, in particular. Paul Nagy, director of quality at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Radiology, recently told Diagnostic Imaging that the use of mobile devices means that "the human-computer interface has gotten to the point where we can now bring back consultation and bring back our relationship with referring physicians."
Greater collaboration as an impetus for increased adoption of vendor-neutral archiving systems: A recent survey by CapSite found that one-third of the U.S. hospital market has adopted a VNA solution, and that an additional 19 percent plan to introduce one in the next two years.
Facilities cutting spending on imaging equipment:. The 2012 Economic Outlook survey released by the Premier healthcare alliance at the end of December estimated that investments in imaging, lab, and surgical and clinical equipment will drop by more than 23 percent compared to six months ago. Providers report the reduced spending will be driven by reimbursement cuts and fewer hospital admissions. It remains to be seen what kind of an impact the 2.3 percent medical device tax will have.