Just as a slew of other organizations have done, in anticipation of a new administration, the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA; Rosslyn, Virginia) last week pledged its support for healthcare reform intended to provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare. And it lauded President–elect Barack Obama's renewed focus on health reform.

"We're trying to educate policy makers about the value of medical imaging and make sure that value proposition isn't lost in debate," Ilyse Schuman, managing director of MITA told Diagnostics & Imaging Week. "The bottom line is, we support the goal of providing all Americans with access to affordable, quality care

"We want to work with the new administration and Congress in a way to ensure that patients have access to the imaging they need. We're offering our unequivocal support for broad healthcare reform. Part of that means having access to the right scan at the right time," she said. "The appropriate use of imaging can save lives and dollars."

MITA issued a statement in support of healthcare reform policies that will:

Enhance value for all patients and health care providers.

Encourage prevention and wellness, including expanding access to recommended disease screenings and treatments.

Preserve the doctor–patient relationship to make healthcare decisions.

Guarantee patients timely access to the right scan at the right time, which is essential to reaping the value of recommended disease screenings and treatments.

Use accreditation and appropriateness criteria for advanced imaging services to ensure that facilities and physicians meet acceptable quality standards.

Harness health information technology to improve quality and reduce cost.

Encourage continued development of new innovative medical imaging technologies to help Americans live healthier lives and reduce their healthcare costs.

Use diagnostically appropriate comparative effectiveness research to improve the quality of healthcare.

Schuman said MITA chose this particular time to speak out because the association wants to "Go on record as advocating support for universal access to healthcare and, in the process of doing so, make sure that patients have access to the right kind of care."

MITA is concerned, she said, that any sort of additional and unwarranted cuts to reimbursement for medical imaging through Medicare or private payers are going to curtail patients' access to imaging.

"If you think about diagnostics for some of our most severe illnesses and diseases, such as stroke and cancer, advanced medical imaging is at the forefront," Schuman said. "You can't treat something until you know it's there in the first place. Imaging accrues cost savings in the long run in a number of ways. The opportunity to detect disease at an earlier disease stage has transformed a number of treatment options for these serious diseases. It gives doctors and patients more tools in their arsenal to combat diseases."

Regarding MITA's policy on harnessing health IT, Schuman termed medical imaging "a poster child for the value that health information and technology can hold."

She said that in networks where access to previous imaging is available to doctors, duplicative imaging is substantially reduced.

If MITA could send the Obama administration a wish list, Schuman said it would include the following edicts:

Make sure that patients continue to have access to medical imaging, recognizing the full value that imaging holds.

Recognize the potential of further innovation that can continue in the medical imaging field to save even more lives and money.

Recognize that, within the context of heath IT, medical imaging plays a key role.

Have an ongoing, open dialogue about the value of medical imaging.

MITA is a division of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (Rosslyn, Virginia), which represents medical imaging equipment manufacturers and product developers.