The Fu­ture of Pa­tient Care

201 Health - - Radiology -

of breast imag­ing at The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal, says. “Our goal is al­ways to de­tect can­cer at its small­est, ear­li­est stages when it’s most treat­able.”

The tech­nol­ogy al­lows ra­di­ol­o­gists to screen the com­plete breast and dig­i­tally com­bines mul­ti­ple X-rays to re­duce the dis­tor­tion cre­ated by tis­sue over­lap or den­sity. This en­ables ra­di­ol­o­gists to bet­ter tar­get the size, shape and lo­ca­tion of a lump or tu­mor.

“It has im­proved our de­tec­tion of ar­chi­tec­tural dis­tor­tions in the breast, and made it eas­ier to lo­cate a tu­mor which, ul­ti­mately, leads to an in­crease in our can­cer de­tec­tion rates,” Calem-Grunat says.

Lung can­cer has also been sig­nif­i­cantly im­pacted by ad­vances in di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing. Englewood Hos­pi­tal and Med­i­cal Cen­ter is among many hos­pi­tals that are now screen­ing smok­ers to aid in the early de­tec­tion of lung can­cer, and Medi­care re­cently be­gan of­fer­ing cov­er­age for pa­tients in a par­tic­u­lar age range who meet cer­tain cri­te­ria, such as those who are cur­rently smok­ers or who have smoked in the past.

“CT scans have been show to de­tect the ear­li­est man­i­fes­ta­tions of lung can­cer, which trans­lates to the best hope for a cure,” Shapiro says. “There was a time when we couldn’t find th­ese can­cers un­til they spread to the lymph nodes…and we’re hop­ing that our im­proved abil­ity to pick up the small­est, ear­li­est nod­ules of lung can­cer will have an im­pact on pa­tients’ long-term sur­vival, which has his­tor­i­cally been poor.”

Since th­ese scans would be per­formed an­nu­ally, the low-dose tech­niques uti­lized by the lat­est CT scans will also sig­nif­i­cantly lower the con­cerns as­so­ci­ated with re­peated ra­di­a­tion ex­po­sure.

The im­pact of the im­prove­ments in the field of ra­di­ol­ogy is even more sig­nif­i­cant than the ear­lier de­tec­tion and di­ag­no­sis of var­i­ous in­juries and dis­eases. Due to im­proved di­ag­nos­tic imag­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, to­day’s pa­tients have ac­cess to treat­ment plans that rep­re­sent a col­lab­o­ra­tion of many health care pro­fes­sion­als.

“There’s been a huge par­a­digm shift,” Pierce says. “Ra­di­ol­o­gists are work­ing more closely with physi­cians and even in­ter­act­ing di­rectly with the pa­tient in de­ter­min­ing the best treat­ment strat­egy.”

This new ap­proach may also ul­ti­mately have an im­pact on health­care costs.

“There’s been a big push in health­care to pro­vide value-based care, and only do what’s nec­es­sary,” Shapiro says. “By elim­i­nat­ing un­nec­es­sary ad­di­tional imag­ing or pro­ce­dures, we’re not only pro­vid­ing the op­ti­mal di­ag­noses and treat­ment plans, but we’re us­ing our re­sources wisely and in the most cost-ef­fec­tive way for the pa­tient.”

Ac­cord­ing to Shapiro, Englewood Hos­pi­tal in­cor­po­rates all of its sub­spe­cial­ties at monthly con­fer­ences, which al­lows physi­cians in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines to col­lab­o­rate on dif­fi­cult cases to de­ter­mine the best course of ac­tion for the pa­tient.

“From the sur­geon to the on­col­o­gist to the ra­di­ol­o­gist, all of th­ese dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines are us­ing the di­ag­nos­tic tech­nol­ogy we have avail­able to of­fer mul­ti­ple view­points on the best course of ac­tion,” he says. “By the time the pa­tient meets with his or her physi­cian, they’re ac­tu­ally re­ceiv­ing the ex­per­tise and ex­pe­ri­ence of an en­tire team of pro­fes­sion­als with­out even re­al­iz­ing it.”

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