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The evolution of imaging technologies

December 01, 2017
Satrajit Misra
From the November 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Satrajit Misra

More than 100 years ago, the advent of X-ray technology created the medical imaging practice, which evolved into magnetic resonance imaging and culminated with the rise of optical imaging.

With this evolution, medical imaging has become more than a diagnostic tool. It’s now an integral element in all walks of medical care. From the planning stage to prevention, and from minimally invasive procedures to patient follow-up, imaging is the cornerstone of all modern medical care.

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In our ever-changing health care landscape, the diverse range of medical imaging tools available to providers helps deliver high-quality care while containing costs. For example, Kaleida Health’s Stroke Care Center (SCC) at the Gates Vascular Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., recently announced more than $5.4 million in savings over five years by leveraging Aquilion ONE technology to diagnose acute stroke. A multiyear study showed improvements in patient outcomes across a variety of resource-intensive ICD-9-CM codes, with better discharge dispositions and up to a full-day reduction in patient length of stay.

In addition to integrating this innovative technology, SCC also incorporated a multidisciplinary approach to further improve clinical outcomes. The SCC facility consolidated its vascular services and repositioned its Aquilion ONE CT systems adjacent to areas of high need: the emergency department and the catheterization lab. The pairing of this multidisciplinary approach with innovative technology has broken down barriers — both physically and philosophically — to improve care.

And this is just the beginning. Innovation in diagnostic imaging is happening all around us.

One trend we’re seeing is the evolution of hybrid diagnostic imaging technology, including hybrid CT or MR with nuclear imaging, and angiography systems with CT. These hybrids demonstrate a shift in diagnostic imaging that could be a game-changer for the industry and a breakthrough in diagnosing and treating chronic diseases like stroke and diabetes.

Even at top-rated hospitals, it can take anywhere from three to four hours to diagnose and treat a patient entering the emergency department with signs of stroke. We all know the phrase “time is brain,” and we must continue using all possible measures to reduce the critical time to diagnose and treat patients to secure the best possible outcomes. Just a few hours can make the difference between rejoining your family in full health and losing the ability to recognize your loved ones. But if we can leverage hybrid imaging technology and implement a multidisciplinary approach, we have the potential to successfully aid patients in just 30 to 45 minutes and in a single room. This single-point triage can significantly improve the patient’s chance for recovery (upwards of 90 percent) and reduce recovery time and costs. This not only saves costs in the initial cycle of care, but can also reduce long-term costs, as the patient recovers more quickly and doesn’t require rehab or other care common among stroke patients who are not diagnosed and treated quickly enough.

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