When one considers the essential elements of best-in-class medical imaging, the old adage “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” comes to mind. In the medical imaging industry, beauty and quality often go hand-in-hand since the practice is inherently visual in nature. While medical imaging professionals have traditionally defined the medical image as the primary source of quality assessment, a number of other elements contribute to quality, which in turn determines clinical outcomes.
Although the technology used to acquire the imaging dataset (e.g. CT scanner) is often considered the principle determinant of medical image quality, a number of additional “hidden” factors determine quality. The protocol used in image acquisition not only determines the visual quality of the imaging data set, but also has a profound influence on patient safety as it relates to radiation dose and contrast optimization.
Software applications such as image processing and advanced visualization play a major role in determining the relative conspicuity in which pathologic and normal states of anatomy can be differentiated from one another. Aesthetically pleasing images alone are no guarantee of an accurate diagnosis. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the collective efforts of the technology and medical imaging professionals to optimize safety and quality to ensure optimal health care outcomes.
As medical imaging continues to play a stronger role in disease prevention, surveillance and treatment, the importance of quality in medical imaging exponentially rises. Thus, medical imaging providers are faced with the following: 1) balancing the challenges of increasing volume and complexity of imaging data. 2) Heightened expectations for timeliness, integrity, and security. 3) Declining reimbursements.
The Importance of Quality in Medical Imaging
To ensure quality does not suffer in the midst of these challenges, RadSite’s MIPPA Accreditation Program (MAP), which is designed specifically for CT, MRI, PET & SPECT accreditation, begins with technical image quality assessment and extends into unchartered territories of creating standardized quality metrics, image-centric image quality databases, and online education/training modules for continuous quality improvement. The success of these initiatives will be driven primarily by RadSite’s ongoing and interactive dialogue with our medical imaging partners. We look forward to this collaboration and opportunity to reinvigorate quality in everyday medical imaging practice.