February 2014

The New Socioeconomics of Health Care

Suresh Mukherji

Suresh Mukherji

It is impossible to avoid being exposed to some aspect of health care reform on a daily basis. Whether it is discussing this at your group’s business meeting, hearing it on the evening news, or being asked your opinion at a cocktail party or backyard barbecue, it seems the socioeconomic aspects of medicine have crept into every crevice of our lives!  The challenge we now face is trying to understand it all and ensure that we can continue to provide the best quality care to our patients. This was the basis of this special AJNR News Digest on the socioeconomic aspects of neuroradiology.

The origin of the AJNR’s recent interest arose from an ASNR Winter Retreat in which it was felt that neuroradiologists were becoming familiarized with the health care lexicon, despite a glaring lack of understanding of what the terms actually meant and their implications. Mauricio Castillo agreed with this assertion and had the vision of publishing a series of Health Care Reform Vignettes, which were very successful. The success of these initial articles provided the basis for more detailed AJNR articles on various aspects of how we are reimbursed and other issues in health care reform.

The articles selected for this AJNR Digest represent topics that directly affect how we practice neuroradiology. These include explanations on

Meaningful Use, Physician Quality Reporting System, RUC, and a summary of the Affordable Care Act. Space limitations of the AJNR Digest prevent us from including more topics, but I would strongly encourage the interested reader to visit the AJNR for similar articles and also to become involved in the ASNR Health Policy Committee.

As Tip O’Neil stated, all politics is local, and effective advocacy begins at the local level. We should never underestimate the impact that “we” as individuals or collectively can have in shaping the future of our specialty. This is a very unique time where “we” (those affected by policy) have the opportunity to become the "they” (creators of policy) if we understand the changes and are willing to participate. The best way to ensure success of an uncertain future is to understand our current environment and be willing to change and adapt. As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

We hope this AJNR News Digest will allow our specialty to better adapt and continue our success.

Image: President Barack Obama's signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)