July 2014 | Radiology Today | Vol. 15 No. 7 P. 12

By David Yeager

A move to value-based care is one of the most highly anticipated changes wrought by the Affordable Care Act, but it’s also one of the most poorly defined terms in health care today. That absence of value’s definition is one reason why value-based care still largely is on the drawing board. Another is that the technology tools to measure value still are being developed. 

To date, radiology has been on the periphery of the value-based care movement. While that’s not likely to change soon, eventually it will, so the question becomes what do radiology departments and practices need to do to be ready?

Vijay M. Rao, MD, FACR, a professor and the chair of the department of radiology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, says the sheer number of potential performance measures is daunting. For example, the consulting company The Advisory Board Company lists nearly 300 radiology-specific measures. 

Perhaps of most interest to radiology departments and practices, though, is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), which started as a voluntary program but will begin assessing penalties in 2015. The PQRS includes numerous measures for radiology. The CMS also collects some radiology data for its Hospital Outpatient Quality Reporting program, which feeds the publicly available Hospital Compare website. 
With all of these competing guidelines, it’s hard to know which metrics to track.

"Organizations need a very strong vision of what questions they are trying to answer and what good performance really looks like."