Zotec Partners Radiology Digest | January 29, 2021

January 29, 2021

Radiology Digest: News from the week of January 29, 2021.

CT Shows Lung Damage Six Months After COVID-19 Recovery

By Kate Madden Yee | January 28, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

One-third of patients who have recovered from acute COVID-19 show pulmonary fibrosis-like changes on six-month follow-up CT, according to a study by researchers from China published January 26 in Radiology.

The findings suggest the need for further research to characterize COVID-19’s long-term effects, wrote a team led by Dr. Xiaoyu Han of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China.

“Follow-up CT scans obtained within six months of disease onset showed lung fibrotic-like changes in more than one-third of patients who survived severe COVID-19 pneumonia,” the researchers wrote. “[Our] report serves as a basis for new prospective large-scale long-term investigations analyzing these high-risk patients.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic has proceeded, researchers have continued to learn about its ongoing effects. But the nature of lasting lung damage in patients who have recovered from severe COVID-19 has yet to be determined.

To address this knowledge gap, Han’s group assessed pulmonary sequelae on six-month follow-up chest CT scans in 114 patients who survived severe COVID-19 (all patients underwent chest CT at symptom onset). Lung changes included opacification, consolidation, reticulation, and fibrotic changes.

To read more, go to Aunt Minnie.

Healthcare Faces ‘Pressing’ Need to Develop Nonradiology Nurses’ Knowledge of Interventional Radiology

By Matt O’Connor | January 27, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

Healthcare’s reliance on minimally invasive interventional radiology procedures and specialists is only expected to keep growing. Yet a new study shows that nonradiology nurses have little exposure to IR during medical school, leaving them ill-equipped in clinical practice.

The findings come from face-to-face interviews with a small group of 10 Canadian nurses who have treated at least one IR patient but also work outside the radiology department. Five themes emerged from these discussions:

1. Nursing curriculum contains no formal interventional radiology education.

2. Many nurses lack knowledge of imaging modalities and IR procedures.

3. Most nurses gain the knowledge they need through self-teaching.

4. This IR knowledge gap hampers nurses from developing a trusted relationship with patients.

5. Incomplete handoffs and miscommunication disrupt patient care.

“IR is a specialty that will continue expanding with the development and application of advanced technology and an ongoing valuing of minimally invasive procedures,” Andra Carley, CRN, RN, with Peterborough Regional Health Center in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues explained. “These findings reflect pressing professional development needs,” they wrote later.

For one, Carley et al. advocated for creating interventional radiology nursing specialty education. An undergraduate program could include technical content about using imaging modalities and a detailed understanding of IR procedures and opportunities to observe them.

Also, information about using procedural sedation, reasons for lab testing, identifying allergies, managing and troubleshooting equipment, and how to handle complications should all be included in education and resources.

Most of the respondents agreed that interventional radiology as a whole is somewhat unknown to those outside the field. The nurses said providers and caregivers need more exposure to IR, including the procedures that are performed, where they’re completed, imaging modalities used, and how such procedures are scheduled.

To read more, go to Health Imaging.

HHS Publishes Strategy to Align AI Efforts

By Jessica Kim Cohen | January 27, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

HHS has published an artificial-intelligence strategy outlining the department’s approach to using and regulating AI, which includes setting up an HHS AI Council to spearhead its efforts.

The AI strategy, developed over the last year and designed to align AI priorities across the department, is the latest sign of HHS ramping up its AI focus.

The Food and Drug Administration recently released a five-pronged action plan to underpin its approach to regulating medical software with AI or machine learning components and HHS last month named Oki Mek, formerly a senior adviser to the HHS chief information officer, its first-ever chief artificial intelligence officer.

Mek earlier this week shared the HHS AI strategy, which was developed during the Trump administration, in a post on LinkedIn, thanking former HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and former HHS Associate Deputy Secretary Charles Keckler for their work leading the project. Mek will co-chair the AI Council that leads executing the strategy.

“As the department builds upon its current capabilities and adapts to a changing environment and emerging technology, HHS recognizes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a critical enabler of its mission in the future,” the eight-page AI strategy report reads. “An enterprise AI strategy will provide direction and guidance in achieving the department’s AI ambition.”

The overarching vision behind the strategy, according to the report, is for HHS to work with academia, industry and other government agencies to leverage AI to “solve previously unsolvable problems” by spearheading advancements for Americans’ health and well-being and scaling adoption of “trustworthy AI” across the department.

The strategy is also meant to guide a new AI Council at the department, which is charged with executing on the AI strategy’s four focus areas: building the HHS workforce’s familiarity with AI, encouraging health AI research and development, making AI tools and resources more accessible across the department, and promoting trustworthy and ethical AI development.

To read more, go to Modern Healthcare.

Radiologists Log Lower Rates of Entrepreneurship Compared to Other Physician Specialists

By Marty Stempniak | January 26, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

Radiologists have lower rates of entrepreneurship when compared to other physician specialties, a trend that persists across all different types of business, according to an analysis published in JAMA Network Open.

U.S. healthcare, with its high costs and inefficiencies, is ripe for disruption. And who better to launch a new PACS or artificial intelligence software than a radiologist? Wanting to explore this topic, one MD researcher pinpointed all companies founded by Massachusetts physicians between 1960 and 2017.

Out of 34,770 doctors holding a medical license at the end of that range, 6,494 (or 19.2%) started at least one business, noted Wesley Greenblatt, MD, a PhD candidate with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. And of 2,154 radiologists included in the analysis, 277 (or 12.9%) started their own venture. Using internal medicine as the “neutral” reference point to compare other specialties, radiologists had lower rates of establishing companies across all business types in the analysis.

“I can’t say for certain why radiologists have lower rates of entrepreneurship. It is very likely that multiple factors are at play,” Greenblatt, who is also a staff physician at Boston Children’s and part-time instructor at Harvard Medical School, told Radiology Business by email. “While you might think that radiology’s typically strong remuneration and attractive work-life balance might mean otherwise, the opportunity cost of a radiologist spending time on entrepreneurship is high. Specialties which might be similar on this dimension, such as dermatology and ophthalmology, are much more entrepreneurial,” he added later.

Other reasons for this lower rate could include culture, professional values, peer influence (physicians may be likelier to pursue opening a business if their colleagues are as well), and market opportunities, he added. Radiology notched lower odds of entrepreneurship in domains including clinical practice (odds ratio of 0.598), public interest (0.308), biotechnology (0.475) and medical business (0.449). Across the study’s entire physician sample, 66% of doc startups operated in clinical practice, real estate or practice management. Another 7.4% were in public interest (i.e., advocacy or philanthropy), while 18.5% were labeled as “other business pursuits.”

To read more, go to Radiology Business.

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Likely to Remain in Place for the Duration of 2021
By Marty Stempniak | January 25, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

The COVID-19 public health emergency—and the provider benefits that come with it—is likely to remain in place for the rest of 2021, officials revealed over the weekend.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently extended the declaration another 90 days earlier this month, stretching it into April. But in a letter to governors on Jan. 22, his replacement indicated that another eight months are on tap.

“To assure you of our commitment to the ongoing response, we have determined that the PHE will likely remain in place for the entirety of 2021, and when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to the determination,” Acting HHS Secretary Norris Cochran wrote Friday.

He emphasized the need for “predictability and stability” as states continue responding to the crisis. With the declaration comes greater leeway for physicians, including opening access to telehealth services. The American College of Radiology has advocated for previous extensions of the PHE, and the accompanying extension of Medicare and Medicaid blanket waivers, interim final rule policies, and other flexibilities.

“In light of the PHE extension, you can expect the continued use of other emergency authorities, including Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declarations and emergency use authorizations for diagnostics, treatments and vaccines,” Cochran wrote. “The department will consider the use of any available flexibility to aid states in their response to the PHE.”

Alex Azar resigned from his post at the top of the agency ahead of last week’s inauguration before being temporarily replaced by Cochran. The new administration has tapped former congressman and current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as the next HHS chief, but he is currently awaiting confirmation hearings.

To read more, go to Radiology Business.

A New Administration, Value-Based Payment to Dictate 2021 Success

By Jacqueline LaPointe | January 22, 2021 | Included in Radiology Digest – January 29, 2021

2021 may not have started as the fresh page everyone was hoping for, but a new administration could be making some well-worn strategies more relevant.

In a new Healthcare Strategies podcast, the editors of Xtelligent Healthcare Media shared their predictions and priorities for 2021. In the revenue cycle and healthcare finance space, some of those included the new regulatory landscape and value-based payment.

HHS and the many agencies it oversees are currently experiencing a significant shake-up as newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden makes his picks for the next leaders of health policy in the US. This will certainly change the direction of federal healthcare, Medicare, and Medicaid policies in 2021 considering the stark differences between Biden’s and former President Trump’s healthcare agendas.

President Biden is quickly unveiling his healthcare plan for the next year, first addressing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But Biden has also indicated that he plans to dive into Medicare
and Medicaid eligibility, surprise billing, drug pricing, value-based care, and more during his tenure.

Much of the work will be handled via HHS and CMS regulation, meaning providers are in for a slew of policy changes in the coming year that are likely to significantly impact operations.

Policies that impact existing value-based payment models and new opportunities to shift away from fee-for-service are likely to be a common goal for the new administration and providers themselves.

To read more, go to Revcycle Intelligence.

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