Riding the Tiger

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By Deb Lopez, CRA, FAHRA

April 2010–The 2010 AHRA Spring Conference, “Embracing the Future in a Climate of Change,” was recently held in San Diego, CA. It was an excellent conference, thanks to Design Team Chair Wanda Coker and Design Team members Ed Morgan, Gina Winters, Dana Allison, and Tony Henderson. The team not only put together an excellent program, but they were wonderful hosts.  They made each attendee and exhibitor feel very welcome and demonstrated the camaraderie and warmth that is the AHRA. I would also like to thank our many vendor partners for their presence at and sponsorship of the meeting.

Overall conference support and a very nice cocktail reception were sponsored by Siemens Healthcare. Without the support of these sponsors, our registration fees would be much greater than they are. We are also grateful to our sponsors for sharing their knowledge about the quality imaging products and services they have, which allow us to provide great patient care.

One of the outstanding educational sessions was “Imaging Accreditation Requirements under MIPPA.” This session was presented to us by Leonard Lucey, JD, LLM, legal counselor and Senior Director of Quality and Safety for the American College of Radiology (ACR). Effective Jan. 1, 2012, and with respect to the technical component (TC) of advanced diagnostic imaging services, Medicare payments may only be made if a supplier is accredited by a CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) designated accreditation organization. These advanced services include MRI, CT, nuclear medicine, and PET. Current law excludes x-ray, ultrasound, and fluoroscopy. Accreditation requirements include qualifications for non-physician medical personnel who furnish the TC, qualifications and responsibilities for medical directors/supervising physicians, procedures to ensure equipment meets performance specifications, and a quality assurance and quality control program. ACR, the nation’s oldest and most widely recognized medical imaging and radiation oncology accrediting body, was one of three organizations approved to supply accreditation services. Lucey urged us to carefully select an accrediting organization, follow their instructions very carefully, and apply for accreditation as soon as possible. Accreditation normally takes 4-6 months, but could take as long as 9 months.

CMS will not allow provisional accreditation; a site is either accredited or not. In addition, the new law requires a certain number of unannounced visits to accredited sites, and requires the accrediting organization to share information about their sites to CMS. You can find specific accreditation requirements and information on how to achieve successful accreditation on the ACR Web site: www.acr.org.  (See also the Regulatory Review column in the March issue of Link: “Regulatory Review: Pursuant to MIPPA, CMS Approves Three Organizations to Accredit Suppliers of Advanced Diagnostic Imaging Services” for more information.)

I was touring with some friends through the city of San Francisco a few weeks ago. We walked through a bustling Chinatown where everyone was preparing for a Chinese New Year parade later that evening. Amid the throngs of people and avoiding the firecrackers being thrown to the ground on Grant Street (traditionally, the explosive noises made by these firecrackers were thought to scare away the evil spirits), we stopped in several shops. We discovered that, according to the Chinese calendar, this was the year of the tiger. I read that tiger years bring out the best in people. Forced to overcome strenuous situations, many rise to the challenge, and as a result, those who think positively, act decisively, and bring creativity into their work will see their efforts bear fruit. Basically, to succeed in the year of the tiger, one must fearlessly ride the tiger. Perhaps your tiger will be accomplishing the accreditation process. If so, hang on tight, show no fear, and reach out to your AHRA colleagues who may have already gone through the process to help you on your journey.

And, gung hay fat choy—best wishes in the Chinese New Year!

This month, I am pleased to introduce you to Sarah Murray, a vital and delightful member of the AHRA staff.

Sarah Murray

AHRA Department: Executive Assistant

Hometown: Millbury, MA

Family: I feel very lucky to be part of a loving, supportive, happy, and crazy family.  My three year old daughter, Charli and my six month old son, Sam are a constant source of creativity, imagination, and energy!  Not a day goes by that I do not play the role of kitty cat, super woman, queen, rock star, or dragon!  My husband is not only a great father but also a great friend.

Interests: I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate great music, great books, and great comedy. Laughter is my favorite form of exercise and karaoke is my guilty pleasure (really anything that lets me jump on the mic). I love chihuahuas and Chinese noodles!

What do you like best about working for AHRA? 
Honestly, there are so many things I like about working for the AHRA. In my role as executive assistant, I have had the opportunity to work with some incredible people—people who have inspired me to work harder and smarter than ever before. I look forward to meeting more of you at this year’s annual meeting!

Deb Lopez, CRA, FAHRA is President of the 2009-2010 AHRA Board of Directors. She lives in San Jose, CA and can be reached at debannlopez@pacbell.net.

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