On April 23, the AIUM's third annual Ultrasound Practice Forum, entitled "Patient Safety and Quality: The Role of Ultrasound" took place in Baltimore, Maryland. Fifty-six individuals representing 30 organizations joined in discussions on training and exam guidelines, scope of practice, and the potential impact of reimbursement on accreditation in ultrasound.
Keynote speaker E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, representing the Institute of Medicine, set the stage for the day's discussions by defining quality of care and outlining the methodology for its measurement. Dr Reece concluded by noting, "It is the responsibility of physicians/scientists to promote and improve the practice of ultrasound quality assurance testing; quality assurance testing will eventually lead to a standard practice of quality assurance in ultrasound departments; our ultimate goal is to improve patient care, and assuring that adequate and appropriate diagnostic ultrasound image quality is achieved and maintained directly serves that purpose."
Guest speakers from the insurance/regulatory arena detailed federal legislation affecting ultrasound, specifically MedPAC, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Congress, indicating that the trend for payers will be to rely more heavily on accreditation as a requirement for reimbursement, and provided examples of the numerous and varied accreditation payment policies already in place.
In 2006, forum participants established a working group to develop ways of assessing minimum training requirements in varied settings. Working group chair Thomas Shipp, MD (American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography), highlighted the need for basic ultrasound information no matter what the specialty. Discussion focused on the methods for implementing these minimal training guidelines and their integration into the current practice of ultrasound. Standardization of this curriculum would provide all sonographers and sonologists with the basic knowledge necessary for quality patient care and would assure patients that the person performing/interpreting their exam has a basic skill set appropriate for the exam being performed.
This year, forum participants identified several priority areas requiring continued collaboration: need for a core curriculum, proficiency assessment, scope of practice by specialty/subspecialty, and outcomes research.
The AIUM looks forward to continued discussion with related organizations. Special thanks to the Forum Planning Committee for their assistance in producing a successful meeting: David Bahner, MD, Carol Benson, MD, Joshua Copel, MD, Lennard Greenbaum, MD, Charlotte Henningsen, MS, RT, RDMS, RVT, and Lawrence Platt, MD.
For a complete recap of the meeting, and to view the presentation slides and forum handouts, visit www.aium.org and select "2007 Ultrasound Practice Forum--A Recap" under "Site Highlights."
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine is a multidisciplinary association dedicated to advancing the safe and effective use of ultrasound in medicine through professional and public education, research, development of guidelines, and accreditation.