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Point-of-Care Ultrasound: How to Demonstrate Proficiency and Quality - Head and Neck Surgeons Tackle the Challenges of Reimbursement Through Accreditation
January 23, 2014
Ultrasound is recognized as an increasingly important modality in a multitude of point-of-care procedures, as it is recognized as a safe, effective, and affordable tool to address many clinical conditions. With the increased use, demonstration of proficiency and, ultimately, reimbursement, have emerged as a growing concern among many point-of-care ultrasound users.
    While there are multiple ways to address this issue, a growing number of specialty societies are working along with the AIUM to develop training and practice guidelines leading to the development of practice accreditation.
Such is the case with otolaryngologists–head and neck surgeons. Faced with the questions many practices are facing, such as “How much training is necessary to be deemed proficient?” and “How can our practice ensure we will get reimbursed for ultrasound procedures?,” the members of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) formed an Ultrasound Review Board and began collaborating with the AIUM to navigate these challenges through a tried-and-true process of developing training and practice guidelines.

The result of the AAO-HNS and AIUM collaboration was the development of the AIUM Practice Guideline for the Performance of Ultrasound Examinations of the Head and Neck, along with the Training Guidelines for Physicians Who Evaluate and Interpret Ultrasound Examinations of the Head and Neck. These documents provide the pathway for AIUM practice accreditation in head and neck ultrasound.* Practice accreditation demonstrates that a practice meets the quality assurance requirements of a growing number of insurance companies.

The AIUM’s Chief Executive Office, Carmine M. Valente, PhD, CAE, stated “As a multispecialty, modality-driven society, the AIUM appreciates the value of collaboration, and we commend Robert Sofferman, MD, AAO-HNS ultrasound review board chair, and David Nielsen, MD, executive vice president/chief executive officer of the AAO-HNS, for their initiative and leadership in helping bring this to fruition. These guidelines will help serve as a measure of quality and will help promote patient safety.”

Robert A. Sofferman, MD, shares how this process has evolved for his colleagues: "Many otolaryngologists–head and neck surgeons have embraced point-of-care ultrasound in their management of thyroid masses and cervical lymphadenopathy. It has evolved into the concept of "ultrasound first" when considering appropriate imaging studies for a variety of additional lesions. The Head and Neck Ultrasound Course sponsored by the American College of Surgeons has been an introductory exercise in developing this technological option, and now after using these skills for several years, many surgeons with appropriate experience want an accreditation opportunity. This will both recognize their special abilities and provide assurance to insurance carriers and government agencies that they have training commensurate with submissions."

Learn more about AIUM practice accreditation.

*AIUM practice accreditation in head and neck ultrasound will be available July 2014.