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Q&A with Dr. Vasken Dilsizian, 2019-2020 president for SNMMI

par Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | June 18, 2019
From the June 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


HCB News: How long have you been a member?
VD: Since 1995.

HCB News: In the press release about your appointment as president-elect, you were quoted talking about how the society should “cultivate opportunities for collaboration with the other professional organizations,” do you have particular organizations in mind?

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VD: Nuclear Medicine is a multi- and interdisciplinary field. It is multidisciplinary for it involves imaging disease processes in essentially all organs and every subspecialty of internal medicine. It is also interdisciplinary, which may require the clinical expertise of cardiologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, and oncologists, in conducting clinical trials, and thereby elevate the value of image-guided therapy and improve patient outcome. Often, new ideas are clinically driven, and require collaboration from our clinical colleagues and referring physicians in order to understand and/or solve the medical condition using advanced imaging techniques. Thus, it is critical that SNMMI cast a wide net and cultivate opportunities of collaboration with other professional organizations as well as patient advocacy groups, underscoring the value of molecular imaging for patient management, promoting additional subspecialty nuclear medicine training, and fostering scientific investigations.

HCB News: Will that be your key focus during your time as president or are there other top priorities?
VD: It would be an honor to be the spokesperson for the society during my presidency both within the United States and around the world.

These are exciting times for our field, having witnessed U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of several new diagnostic and therapeutic agents within a very short period of time that are reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Undoubtedly, the field is poised to get even better and more exciting with time. However, we need to keep pace with changing health care and reimbursement policies, and position the Society to be proactive rather than reactive in order to achieve appropriate reimbursement for our high-value care. Congress passed the 2014 Protecting Access to Medicare Act, which tied advanced diagnostic imaging services / reimbursement to Appropriate Use Criteria (AUC). SNMMI is one of the few organizations that the CMS has recognized to develop their own AUC. That’s very important. The criteria for appropriate use are evidence based on published clinical trials and/or expert consensus. This is to reassure CMS that the information provided by ordering a diagnostic and/or therapeutic radionuclide based study may either, 1) change medical management or therapy, or, 2) improve patient outcome, which would be consistent with “best medical practice”, and SNMMI is ready to meet that challenge.

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