- Category: About ICUS
ICUS is at the forefront of education, advocacy and communications involving contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) imaging, which:
- Improves the accuracy and reliability of conventional ultrasound images in many patients.
- Reduces the need for redundant, more expensive, and sometimes riskier downstream diagnostic testing.
- Reduces overall healthcare costs.
- Does not expose patients to ionizing radiation.
- Does not utilize contrast agents containing dye, and does not increase the risk of kidney damage.
- Offers a favorable cost and safety profile at a time of heightened concerns regarding overall health care costs and the cumulative impact of ionizing radiation due to medical diagnostic testing.
To date, key ICUS initiatives have included:
ICUS GRAND ROUNDS -- ICUS Grand Rounds is an exciting educational initiative that brings ICUS speakers to interested medical centers, physician groups, payors, sonographers, nurses and professional societies. Topics include: CEUS applications, benefits, safety, risks and precautions; How to use CEUS agents and equipment, and how to interpret the scans; Guidelines, coding and payment issues; and other special topics.
FDA BRIEFINGS -- ICUS briefs the staff of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from time to time on new developments in CEUS safety and clinical utility. In addition, at the request of FDA staff ICUS has prepared and submitted two scientific position papers addressing certain CEUS indications.
REIMBURSEMENT -- ICUS engages with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on reimbursement for use of ultrasound contrast agents based on Medicare HOPPS (hospital outpatient) payment rules. ICUS also is assessing various issues involving CPT coding.
WEEKLY NEWS UPDATES -- ICUS produces weekly email updates containing articles about the latest developments in the CEUS field. These ICUS "News Monitors" are emailed each Friday to all ICUS members free of charge.
PRESS RELEASES -- ICUS press releases announce important developments in the CEUS field and are often picked up news media worldwide -- including mainstream media outlets as well as trade publications and websites.
PUBLICATIONS -- ICUS has authored and co-authored scientific reviews in peer-reviewed journals, thereby expanding the body of CEUS publications.
SUBOPTIMAL ECHO GUIDE -- The ICUS pamphlet on suboptimal echocardiograms is a handy clinical reference tool available at no cost on the ICUS website.
ACCREDITATION -- ICUS worked with the Intersocietal Commission on Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) in support of the first inclusion of CEUS in new accreditation standards for adult echocardiography laboratories in the U.S.A. Those standards recognize the important role of ultrasound contrast agents in improving the accuracy of diagnostic ultrasound imaging and, therefore, require use of ultrasound contrast agents to enhance images under certain defined circumstances.
PRACTICE STANDARDS -- ICUS collaborates on the development of practice standards from time to time, including the recent World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology (WFUMB) standards governing the use of CEUS in liver imaging.
COMPARATIVE EFFECTIVENESS TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT -- ICUS successfully prompted the inclusion of CEUS in a forthcoming “comparative effectiveness” technology assessment focused on the diagnosis of women with chest pain. In fact, ICUS was able to assemble scientific data and produce a persuasive document for submission to AHRQ in only three days notice.
INTERNATIONAL, MULTI-DISCIPLINARY COMMUNICATIONS -- ICUS opens channels of ongoing communication and collaboration across geographical boundaries and medical sub-specialties. Serving as a unique bridge between diverse constituencies, ICUS makes possible the global cross-fertilization of ideas among CEUS experts in cardiology, radiology, vascular medicine, hepatology, and other imaging fields, including academic researchers, practicing physicians, engineers, industry representatives and others.
STRATEGIC PLAN -- The ICUS Strategic Plan anticipates further expansion of this work worldwide.