The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) sent a letter in response to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ white paper titled “Preparing for the Next Pandemic.” The letter outlines a series of recommendations for strengthening the imaging sector’s preparedness for future pandemic events.

Noting the essential role medical imaging technologies play in supporting America’s healthcare infrastructure and guiding care pathways for evaluating, managing, and effectively treating patients with COVID-19, the letter urges policymakers to adopt the following measures to bolster the sector during future health crises:

  1. Include medical imaging technologies in the Strategic National Stockpile: After noting that the imaging industry stands ready to meet any increase in demand for its technologies, the letter calls for the inclusion of imaging equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile. This change that would ensure any escalated demand on our healthcare system can be met during future crises of all types.
  2. Streamline FDA regulatory requirements for applicable medical imaging devices: While the letter commends the FDA for reducing regulatory barriers to streamline the delivery of medical technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the document also lays out further changes to facilitate the future deployment of essential medical imaging equipment. These changes include temporarily prioritizing review and clearance of medical imaging devices that play a role in the care pathway of the applicable disease/crisis and temporarily granting greater flexibility for use of alternate components in supplier qualification in order to meet potential increases in demand, among other recommended changes.
  3. Establish processes to maintain continuity of non-pandemic medical care: After noting the important role medical imaging has played in treating COVID-19, the letter underscores the value of imaging technologies in guiding non-emergent medical procedures that have been delayed as a result of the pandemic. Given major challenges providers have faced in managing pent-up demand for overdue care, implementing processes to facilitate continuity of care in the future will help avoid any public health issues arising from missed or delayed imaging services. Suggested policy changes include establishing incentives for providers seeking to meet pent-up demand, as well as developing communications programs to ensure patients understand when it is safe to return to routine care.
  4. Implement consistent caseload reporting metrics: Throughout the pandemic, individual healthcare facilities or localities have used their own metrics to assess capacity and need. The letter notes that these metrics are often not comparable across facilities or jurisdictions, underscoring the need for a clear, consistent reporting framework.  Such common metrics will enable healthcare providers, government officials, and medical technology manufacturers to make informed decisions about where to direct resources.
  5. Provide additional research funding for the value of imaging in health crises: As a final action point, given the important role medical imaging has played in the COVID-19 care pathway, the letter calls on policymakers to allocate additional funds to research the efficacy of imaging approaches in addressing future crises.

“As this letter makes clear, we support taking critical steps to prepare our country for the future,” says Patrick Hope, executive director of MITA. “We look forward to working with policymakers to bolster the imaging sector’s preparedness for any future public health crisis.”