Medical imaging plays a crucial role in the diagnostic and treatment process for many patients. By reading medical images of the body, a radiologist can treat diseases, correlate medical image findings with other examinations and tests, and recommend further examinations or treatments when necessary. The reading of a radiology professional determines the course of treatment. Physicians admit or discharge patients based on what the radiologists say about, for example, an abdomen CT. Surgeons operate when radiologists make a diagnosis of aortic dissection.
Lives are changed forever depending on the reading of a radiologist. The immense importance of proper reading requires that the process be done with the highest level of accuracy. In an ideal world, this would be the perfect scenario. However, in real life, we still have a long way to go to get a hundred percent accuracy in medical imaging.
Like other diagnoses, imaging is also subject to errors. According to a study1 published in Oct 2018 by Jason Itri and his associates, the average diagnostic error rate ranges from 3-5%. Other research reveals that there are higher error rates on more detailed imaging tests such as MRIs and CT scans, with misdiagnosis and related errors occurring in up to 230% of cases. These percentages translate to approximately 40 million diagnostic errors in imaging annually worldwide.
Considering the weight and significance a reading makes in a patient’s life, the huge number of misdiagnoses is alarming. It also contributes heavily to the $750 billion in wasted US healthcare spending each year according to the 3National Academy of Medicine.
Thankfully, Covera Health is tackling this healthcare issue head-on through meaningful quality metrics in radiology.
In my recent interview with Covera Health’s CEO, Ron Vianu, he talked about the importance of securing accurate diagnosis and how it affects the entire course of treatment for a patient. He said, “It (radiology) has to be understood as a supporting specialty for all other medical specialties. And so if you think about a patient in their care journey being misdiagnosed at this very pivotal early juncture when they’re getting this diagnostic procedure, it’s potentially going to impact them for months, years or the rest of their lives as it relates to the potential for them receiving a good outcome.”
Misdiagnosis means the patient will likely take an unnecessary drug which may complicate the health condition further. What’s even worse than receiving unnecessary surgery? Misdiagnosis has life-threatening consequences.
I recently read a story about a patient who was told she had an irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance, hypochondria, and anxiety/panic disorder when she was younger. The lady was chronically ill for 33 years. Her quality of life deteriorated. She’s had several miscarriages and constant inflammation for over three decades. Finally, when she was 39 years old, she was correctly diagnosed with celiac disease. Had she been properly diagnosed in her teens; she would have received the right treatment and had a better quality of life.
“The way we ultimately look to impact that system is by both enabling patients to understand which providers will be best for them as it relates to achieving the right diagnosis and ultimately achieving the right care as a result of that,” Ron added.
Covera Health does not only look to impact patients through accurate readings. It actively assists patients by directing them to the right providers which can offer the most accurate diagnosis.
By improving the accuracy of the diagnosis and doing that during the early stage of the healthcare journey, Covera Health reduces misdiagnosis, significantly altering the care path of the patient. It also allows for a significant amount of savings on the patient’s part.
While some companies are hyper-focused on serving one stakeholder, Covera Health seeks to serve all the stakeholders equally.
Ron stated, “As we think about quality and tackling in the market, we very much think about whether or not a physician is arriving at the right diagnosis for a patient…(we) enable them to understand or have visibility into the quality of care that they’re delivering so that they can use that information to improve that quality of care.”
“What we’re providing to the radiology community really is multifold. One, we are giving them the ability for the very first time with the specialty to be able to demonstrate the value of what they do as it relates to quality. And so if I’m a radiology practice and I’m investing in the latest technology and I’m hiring some of the best physicians to work at this practice today, there really is no reward for that directly other than the fact that you receive satisfaction that you’re providing better patient care.”
Covera Health is empowering radiology providers with powerful analytics to better define, measure, and deliver accurate diagnoses. It allows radiologists to provide the best care for their patients, resulting in better outcomes and overall improved health.
It also provides a foundational tool for payors who are struggling with building a benefit design system and network necessary to keep their employees healthy. For the past years, the payor community has been criticized for lack of transparency, lack of visibility, and lack of sight into quality.
Ron shared, “What we really provide to that community is not only visibility for themselves, but visibility that they then can share with others around the quality of care that they’re delivering to their patients and how that quality of care ultimately transforms itself to better outcomes for their patients. We support the radiology community in one, helping them demonstrate to patients to show other providers and payers alike that they’re not a commodity service. And then we quantify what that means in terms of how different centers are doing relative to different pathologies and illnesses. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, not only do we engage in this primary research about quality, but we give them back fundamental results that help them shape how they care for patients on an ongoing basis.
Ron shared that there have been employers who have experienced 8-15% of the total cost savings. Given that Radiology is only a small percentage of the total cost, that 8-15% of savings is a significant amount.
Are you a health provider or a payor? Improve the quality of care you provide your patients through Covera Health’s powerful analytics. Reduce the number of misdiagnoses, lessen any catastrophic impact a misdiagnosis may have on a patient, and an improved quality of a patient’s life are just some of the advantages offered by Covera Health.
For more information on Covera Health, visit https://www.coverahealth.com/.
Listen to more educational and inspiring podcasts here:https://outcomesrocket.health/.
3National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2013. Best care at a lower cost: The path to continuously learning healthcare in America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://www.nap.edu/read/13444/chapter/3#13
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