With the election of Barack Obama, our nation will be confronting major, complex foreign and domestic issues, including a troubled economy, mounting budget deficit, a worsening housing crisis, unrest in the middle east and two wars.
One of the most pressing domestic issues will be healthcare reform. President-elect Obama has proclaimed healthcare reform as one of his top priorities when he takes office. His objectives with regard to the U.S. healthcare system include, among other things:
- Universal healthcare coverage
- Coverage of pre-existing conditions
- Implementation of healthcare IT reforms
MITA will be playing a vital role in healthcare IT reform.
AARP, one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington, has also set healthcare IT reform as one of its top legislative priorities for 2009.
With respect to healthcare IT, one of the primary long-range goals is to establish a nationwide health imaging information exchange network. This network, in one scenario, would permit providers in one hospital to access a central hub to obtain patient information from other hospitals e.g. a patient's lab results, clinical findings and prior diagnostic imaging procedures.
For instance, suppose John Jones underwent a CT scan at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and one week later comes into the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Ordinarily, physicians outside of Cedars-Sinai would likely not know about the procedure performed at Mayo Clinic. Under the above scenario, a radiologist, or other kind of physician, at Cedars-Sinai would be able to find out not only if Mr. Jones underwent a CT scan several weeks prior at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, but also could obtain his lab results and clinical findings. If the first scan provided sufficient information, together with the lab results and clinical findings, then Mr. Jones might not need a second CT scan, thus saving healthcare costs and reducing Mr. Jones' exposure to radiation.
MITA's Medical Imaging Informatics (MII) Section will be very actively involved in terms of implementation of healthcare IT reforms in the U.S. MITA's Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) manufacturers hold the key to communication among providers. It is PACS which allows transmission of images from one place to another. MITA members will be instrumental in unlocking PACs' potential through, among other things, their involvement in DICOM, HL-7, IHE and other activities.
Creation of these medical provider networks holds great promise for improvement of U.S. healthcare, and will be receiving much attention in the months ahead. Clearly, 2009 will be an exciting and challenging year for MITA. Stay tuned!