Imaging is great yada, yada, yada

June 2, 2004

Here are a few fun facts:- Medical imaging is one of the "top 11" medical innovations of the past 1000 years, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.- Medical imaging eliminates half the unnecessary surgeries for lung cancer.-

Here are a few fun facts:

- Medical imaging is one of the "top 11" medical innovations of the past 1000 years, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

- Medical imaging eliminates half the unnecessary surgeries for lung cancer.

- Image-guided breast biopsies cost a third of what surgical biopsies do and take half the time.

Pretty impressive, eh? I'd like to claim credit for digging them up. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association did. The flag-waving organization for the imaging industry. We should all be grateful.

Healthcare costs are rising and it's only a matter of time before the fingers begin pointing at medical imaging. Somebody has to get out there and set the record straight-that the benefits of imaging far out weigh the costs.

The only problem I can see with NEMA's efforts is that a Web site is not enough. We need to get aggressive.

I live in Wisconsin. I can't travel 10 miles without a billboard asking me if I've got milk. And it's not just this state. The dairy industry has gone national. White moustaches smile back at us from the four-color glossy pages of magazines. They shimmer from HDTV screens.

We work in a multibillion dollar industry populated by multinational companies with plenty to lose if imaging gets stuck holding the bag for rising healthcare costs. Why isn't this industry out there with the dairy farmers, getting its message across to the public?

NEMA is planning to expand its campaign about the benefits of medical imaging to insurance companies, interest groups, and lawmakers. I'm not sure this alone is going to do the trick. Maybe it's just me, but I'm skeptical that convincing insurers, lobbyists, and politicians that medical imaging is worth the price will keep them from pointing at medical imaging as the scapegoat for their inability to control medical costs.

We need to show 230 million Americans that multislice CT can make the difference between life and death to car accident victims; that PET/CT gives oncologists what's needed to wipe cancer from patients' bodies; that cardiac cath can free people from the pain of heart disease; that diagnostic ultrasound tracks the development of healthy babies.

We need to put it on billboards, in magazines, and on TV. Knowing as we do that the imaging community is a meaty target for attack, anything short of a national multimedia ad campaign is too little.