The influence of the medical imaging tests in healthcare is constantly growing. Injuries and diseases are detected earlier thanks to these tests, which also assist in providing the best possible treatments for patients.
Medical imaging is not only useful for diagnostics, but it can be also used for prevention and therapy and can significantly contribute to lowering costs in healthcare on a global scale.
Most adults have undergone at least one diagnostic imaging test, if not more. Some studies found that adults enrolled in integrated healthcare systems averaged 1.8 diagnostic imaging tests per year.
There are different medical imaging tests out there, such as CT, MRI, X-ray, and so on, so it is important for healthcare providers to know the difference, purpose, benefits, and risks of each one.
The main concern with certain tests is radiation. For example, X-ray or CT scans can emit higher levels of radiation and can potentially cause unnecessary side effects if the scans are performed excessively or without good reason.
Another concern is the contrast materials which are sometimes used in certain medical imaging tests, such as MRI. They can have a range of side effects, from a mild skin irritation to a life-threatening allergic reaction. Also with an MRI, any metal or electronic devices on a patient can interfere with scan and result in injury.
Besides health concerns, there are also concerns regarding the widespread use of these medical imaging tests. Many suggest that diagnostic imaging tests are used too often and without cause, which can have counter effects, adding unjustified cost and long-term health risk to patients.
It's been estimated that approximately 50% of diagnostic imaging tests may be unnecessary and unable to provide any helpful insights. There are several potential reasons for this extreme overuse of diagnostic imaging tests, including physician's fear of a lawsuit, physicians owning the equipment, and patient requesting the imaging test.
Although overuse of these tests generates the greatest concern, underuse may also be a reason for worry, because it may compromise patient care directly.
When used appropriately, diagnostic imaging studies overall are clearly of great value in improving healthcare, where benefits outweigh the risks.
Physicians are those who decide whether a diagnostic imaging test is required for their patient and consider the risks and benefits associated with each test.
However, choosing the appropriate imaging test in response to a patient's symptoms can be difficult without guidance or recommendations which can be used at the point of care.
HealthHelp wanted to help physicians in selecting the imaging modalities that provide the greatest clinical value at the lowest possible risk, so their physicians created the app called Medical Imaging Consultant.
The app is intended to be used as a guide to assist healthcare professionals in determining which medical imaging procedure is the most appropriate for their patient, taking the greatest clinical value and the lowest possible risk for a patient into consideration.
The Medical Imaging Consultant app is based on the input of hundreds of individuals, including healthcare providers and patients, which help them tailor the recommendations.
According to the app authors, the app is supported by evidence-based medicine, with medical literature included in the app. However, the app provides no links or references.
Upon opening, the app would ask you to provide your email address, however, you can skip this part and proceed to the app without providing your email.
I'm not sure why the app requires your email because it's not a registration. It looks like the app collects personal information, but there's no single line in their app explaining this part. So, I'd suggest you skip this, just as I did.
Medical Imaging Consultant app provides imaging recommendations for both adult and pediatric patients, grouped in two separate sections.
Users can first select the organ system and then select the symptom. The app will present them with various imaging modalities and the evidence behind them.
For example, the Adult section include breast, cancer, cardiovascular (with subsections on cardiovascular conditions, risk assessments, heart failure, and CAD), chest, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, head and neck, musculoskeletal, neurologic, ob-gyn, psychiatric, spine, and trauma.
For each system, users can select specific symptoms, for example, if they've chosen Chest, symptoms would range from asthma, chest pain (non-specific), COPD, and so on. Or, if Head and Neck is a selected system, symptoms will include hearing loss, hyperparathyroidism, sinus disease, etc.
The systems in the Pediatric section include cardiothoracic and neck, CNS and head, GI, genitourinary, musculoskeletal, and spine. Same as in adult section, choosing a particular system would list system-specific symptoms.
After choosing the system and symptoms, the app presents users with guidelines for selecting the appropriate test or points out when an imaging test is not likely to be beneficial for their patient.
For most suggested procedures, the Medical Imaging Consultant app displays the CPT code, description, radiation dose in mSv, chest X-ray equivalents (CXRE), MCA, as well as a risk and benefit score for each imaging option, giving physicians an informed basis for making a right selection.
It would be good if the app provided a little Info button next to each of these parameters, explaining what they mean or how they came up with the calculations. This would make the app much better point-of-care resource.
Also, scrolling through suggested procedure options to navigate to the desired information could be a little confusing, because there's no indication that there's a scroll available.
It's evident that the app isn't frequently updated. For example, breast cancer screening recommendations still recommend routine annual screenings for women over 40, while the American Cancer Society no longer recommends these screenings as of 2015.
If these flaws are improved and updated, the Medical Imaging Consultant app has a potential to become an amazing resource for providing quick and accurate diagnostic imaging recommendations at the point of care.
Benefit: Physicians who need guidance in selecting the most appropriate medical imaging procedure for their patient could benefit from this app